Thursday, September 4, 2008

Capitol to assist oil explorers that follow requirements

Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Capitol to assist oil explorers that follow requirements

CAPITOL will support proponents of exploratory oil and gas drillings in the Tañon and Cebu-Bohol Straits if they comply with requirements for such operations.

Australian-based NorAsian Energy Limited reportedly started conducting a seismic survey off the waters of Argao and Pinamungajan towns in Cebu last Aug.15.

NorAsian Energy pledged to address any “temporary disturbance” the project might bring to the livelihood of residents.

Fisher folk from the towns of Argao, Sibonga and Pinamungahan oppose the oil exploration for fear of losing their livelihood.

Cebu Provincial Board (PB) Member Victor Maambong, chairperson of environmental conservation and natural resources committee, said the Province welcomes any “sustainable and environment-friendly” development project.

Position paper

The PB approved last Monday a position paper containing the official stand of the environmental committee on the proposed oil and gas exploration.

Maambong said the Province is committed to “protect and conserve” the environment.

Maambong listed several requirements for the oil drilling to follow. One requirement is a public consultation where project proponents, residents and local officials can discuss the matter.

Another is that there should be resolutions from barangays, towns and cities endorsing the project.

Also, the project proponents must have an environmental impact assessment study and environmental compliance certificate from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Maambong advised the project proponents to give copies of their permit to concerned agencies and nongovernment organizations.

Meanwhile, the Department of Energy (DOE) may face another legal suit over the ongoing oil and gas exploration off the shores of Sibonga and Argao, Cebu.

Vince Cinches, executive director of the Central Visayas Fisherfolk Development Center Inc. (Fidec), said Fidec will assist fishermen of Sibonga and Argao in filing a case against DOE.

“Apparently the DOE has not yet learned its lesson. Oil and gas exploration is unconstitutional. We are going to remind them of the legal mandate,” said Cinches.


Cinches said that their group, as well as the fisherfolk communities in Sibonga and Argao, hopes to avoid what happened during the oil and gas exploration in Tañon Strait.

“There is a massive opposition against NorAsia and the Department of Energy,” said Cinches.

After expressing interest in finding oil and gas deposits in the Cebu-Bohol Strait, NorAsia Limited of Australia already started their operations off the shores of Sibonga and Argao.

Cinches said the company is already at the site and is currently removing the fishpens of fisherfolk of the two towns.

But their operations are illegal because they do not have an environmental compliance certificate (ECC), he said.

The company, he said, also failed to get the endorsement of the local government units for their oil and gas exploration.

For this, the fishing community of the two towns and Fidec expressed dismay over DOE’s lack of action and failure to implement national laws.

“They keep on selling our resources and look what is happening to us now,” Cinches said. (GMD/EPB)

For Bisaya stories from Cebu. Click here.

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