OPINION: One cannot help but feel a little sorry for the Philippines, viewed by some upstream players — albeit stated privately — as a poor relation in Southeast Asia’s exploration and production arena.

It’s not as if there has never been anything to shout about. In the late 1980s, Shell discovered and developed the multi-trillion cubic feet Malampaya gas field, still producing to this day. But such success has never been rivalled.

Recent exploration has been limited by a protracted maritime boundary dispute with China, which ultimately saw the Philippines win a favourable United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea tribunal decision in 2016.