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Bohol Oil Seismic Survey Suspended
« on: July 09, 2007, 01:35:29 PM »
This Bohol News is brought to you by Sun Star Daily

This seismic survey in search of natural gas and oil off Bohol was suspended beginning July 6, 2007, because of unresolved conditions in case of any damage on the environment, an environmentalist-lawyer said.

They also have yet to finalize compensation for affected fishers and complete a study on how the project will affect biodiversity.

“We kept asking the Bohol officials about their commitment,” said lawyer Raul Barbarona, executive director of the Environmental Legal Assistance Center (Elac).

He said that Bohol Rep. Edgar Chatto himself went to Manila after a meeting with regional officials of the Department of Energy (DOE), other Bohol officials and critics of the project the other week, to persuade the DOE head off to suspend the survey.

NorAsian Energy shifted to Bohol last June 27 after completing its seismic survey in Argao and Sibonga in Cebu Province. They managed to complete a three-dimensional survey that stretches from Argao in southern Cebu to the vicinity of Cabilao islet of Loon, Bohol before their operation was suspended.

Conditions

Survey vessel mv Pacific Sword reportedly left for Singapore Thursday night because unless the DOE and NorAsian meet the conditions, they cannot proceed.

DOE 7 Director Antonio Labios and Bohol Gov. Erico Aumentado could not be reached for comment.

Aumentado’s mobile phone was off, while Labios did not answer calls.

Barbarona and some of the fishers have gone to court in an attempt to stop the survey.

After the July 2 and 4 hearings on their petition, the court now has to resolve the motion of Energy Secretary Rafael Lotilla and Environmental Management Bureau 7 Director Alan Arranguez questioning the court’s jurisdiction to issue a temporary restraining order against a government project.

Not a victory yet


“We do not consider the suspension of the survey a victory to us because the three-dimensional survey is the main activity. That two-dimensional survey from Maribojo to Panglao is just extra,” said Barbarona.

NorAsian’s offer to pay P300,000 for the more than 2,700 fishers who stand to be affected has been refused.

Scientists from Silliman University in Dumaguete City and marine biologists from Holy Name University in Bohol are still doing a study on the effects of the survey on the marine environment.

“NorAsian and DOE should resolve these conditions, particularly on accountability for the environment and compensation, before they proceed with the survey,” Barbarona said. (AIV)

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