Navy eyes conversion of gas platforms into observation posts

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    THE Philippine Navy is planning to convert two gas platforms off Palawan, which were closed by the Department of Energy (DOE) last year, into “observation posts” to better monitor other gas platforms and transiting vessels in the province, according to Navy chief Vice Adm. Giovanni Carlo Bacordo.

    Bacordo made the remarks after he and other top Navy officials visited the now-closed El Nido and Matinloc gas platforms on Saturday.

    “This inspection intends to look at the viability of these retired gas platforms to be converted to observation posts for Recto Bank and Malampaya gas platform,” Bacordo said.

    “This will further enhance our capability to protect our maritime interests in these strategic locations.”

    The DOE closed the two gas platforms in November last year after 40 years of operations.

    It then offered the facilities for the use of the National Task Force in the West Philippine Sea, which includes the military as a member.

    Navy public affairs officer Lt. Cmdr. Maria Christina Roxas said the two gas platforms platforms are “strategic and vital,” citing their proximity to Recto Bank, Malampaya, and Galoc gas fields.

    Roxas said the El Nido and Matinloc gas fields are currently manned by personnel from the Joint Task Force Malampaya but “it’s bare,” meaning no equipment are installed to monitor transiting ships.

    “If you convert them to LMS (littoral monitoring stations), they will be become sort of maritime domain awareness types of posts… you will be able to monitor what’s happening in the area,” said Roxas.

    If the El Nido and Matinloc gas platforms are converted into monitoring stations, equipment will be installed, she said. “We’ll be able to see all transiting ships, inbound and outbound vessels,” she said.

    Last month, two Chinese Navy ships were discovered to have conducted survey missions at the Recto Bank. In 2014, two Chinese survey ships were also seen at the vicinity of the Recto Bank.