The Philippines is awaiting a United Nations (UN) resolution on its claim for additional territory known as Benham Rise located off the Island of Luzon in the country's continental shelf.
Benham Rise was discovered by an American geologist with a family name Benham in 1933. It is located well within the 200-mile exclusive Philippine economic zone.
Secretary Ramon Paje of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said the UN is expected to rule on the undisputed Philippine claim over the 13 million hectare Benham Rise, an underwater plateau off the eastern coast of Luzon Islands.
Benham Rise is believed to have huge gas deposits which could make the Philippine self-sufficient in gas and methane fuel supply.
In 2008, the Philippines filed a claim over the extinct volcanic ridge to comply with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)
Paje said the UN decision on the undisputed Philippine claim will be made next year.
"We have submitted a claim under (Unclos) sometime in late 2008. We got a reply from the UN lately (asking us) to answer some questions. They intend to pass a resolution sometime in mid-2012 to approve our claim (that it is) part of the Philippine continental shelf," Paje told reporters after a Senate hearing.
“We have always said that this country could provide for its own energy source with the 200 miles exclusive economic zone that we have. We have 240 million hectares now of water and continental shelf and 30 million hectares of land. We believe that there are substantial deposits anywhere,” Paje said.
The Philippine Environment Secretary said there is a possibility the Philippines could export gas in the future once the UN approves the claim.
Sen. Franklin Drilon who is the chairman of the Senate finance committee said, "Once the Unclos establishes that Benham Rise is part of the Philippines, we would have legal basis to enter into exploration agreements with private companies to explore… (the area’s) resources,”