The recent start of production of natural gas at a mangosteen field in Santiago City in Isabela is a good sign, a Department of Science and Technology (DOST) official said.

Geologist Carlos Primo David, newly assumed executive director of the DOST’s Philippine Council on Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD), said the discovery of the resource in Isabela is an indication of the richness of natural resources of the eastern shelf of the Philippines, where the Benham Rise is situated.

“It’s a good sign for Benham,” David told The STAR.

In 2014, Filipino scientists conducted oceanographic exploration and surveys at the Benham Rise region, which covers a seabed area of 135,506 square kilometers, to determine the resources available for future development.

David, however, said Benham Rise was expected to be rich in minerals and not in oil and gas.

“Benham is mainly volcanic rocks underneath and not sedimentary formations where oil and gas are found,” he pointed out.

David, who assumed the PCIEERD top post just last Wednesday, said he was pushing to update the country’s geographical data identifying resource-rich areas.

He said the map-updating project would focus on minerals and exclude oil and gas resources, since the latter is covered by the mandate of the Department of Energy.

PCIEERD is the DOST’s main sectoral planning council in charge of industry, energy and emerging technology.

Another DOST agency – the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) – is also undertaking a project in Benham Rise, which aims to identify aquatic and other resources available in the seamount habitat.

In 2012, the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf adopted in full the Philippines’ declaration for an extended continental shelf over the Benham Rise region, granting the Philippines sovereignty over the area.