Benham Plateau, also known as the Benham Rise, is a 13-million-hectare undersea region rich in minerals and huge natural gas deposits, located in the Philippine Sea, East of Luzon.

Benham Rise is not subject to any maritime boundary disputes and claims unlike the Spratly Islands in the West Philippine Sea, which is also claimed by China and other Southeast Asian countries.

On April 2012, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) has approved the Philippines’ territorial claim to Benham Rise, which the Philippine government claimed as an extension of the Philippines’ continental shelf.

Benham Rise is a seismically active undersea region and an extinct volcanic ridge located in the Philippine Sea approximately 250 km (160 mi) east of the northern coastline of Dinapigue, Isabela.

An American geologist surnamed Benham discovered the area that was between 40 and 2,000 meters below the waterline in 1933. Benham Rise has been part of the culture of ancient Filipinos. Ancient Catanduanes people have fished and roamed the area long before the colonial era.

For the past years, studies conducted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR), indicated that Benham Rise has large deposits of methane in solid form.

The structure of a gas hydrate (methane clathrate) blocks embedded in the sediment of hydrate ridge, off Oregon, USA. Image credit: Wikipedia

Methane clathrate also called methane hydrate or methane ice is a solid clathrate compound in which a huge amount of methane is trapped inside a crystal like the structure of water, forming a solid similar to ice. Significant deposits of methane clathrate have been found beneath Antarctic ice and in sedimentary deposits along continental margins worldwide.

Huge methane ice (burning ice) deposits in Benham Rise could turn the Philippines into a natural gas exporter.

Natural gas is a fossil fuel used as a source of energy for heating, cooking, and electricity generation. It is also used as fuel for vehicles and as a chemical feedstock in the manufacture of plastics and other commercially important organic chemicals.

Methane ice deposits are believed to be a larger hydrocarbon resource than all of the world’s oil, natural gas and coal resources combined, it could become the next energy game changer. Experts dubbed the methane ice as the “fuel of the future.”

In fact, the deposits of this methane ice in Benham Rise are believed to be so huge, it could make the Philippines one of the richest countries in the world.

February 12, 2016 –Japan and Korea expressed interest in exploring Benham Rise

The infamous Fukushima disaster has led to Japan’s entire nuclear industry to shut down, resulting in its gradual shift back to fossil fuel for power generation.

The Japanese government has spent millions of dollars on researching related to methane ice after the Fukushima Daichi nuclear disaster.

On March 2013, Japan becomes the first in the world to successfully extracted gas from methane ice from the seabed, 3,300 feet below sea level. They are planning to commercially produce the natural gas by early 2020.

Recently, Benham Rise has attracted the interest of experts from the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (Jamstec) and Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIOST) to collaborate in conducting research and exploration.

JAMSTEC's Shinkai 6500 Submersible. Image source:
JAMSTEC’s Shinkai 6500 Submersible. Image source:

JAMSTEC would like to do a survey using its ¥6-billion submarine research project. They advised the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to collaborate with them or maybe rent their equipment in exploring the vast gas-rich area of Benham Rise.

In 2011, Environment Secretary Ramon Jesus Paje said “Benham Rise is very relevant because of its gas deposits which have been confirmed particularly by the National Mapping Resource Information Agency. It has given us the data that the area contains solid methane. We have not explored it but we have found nodules of methane on the surface and this is very important to us.”

Burning ice: Methane hydrate is set on fire in this undated file photo.
Burning ice: Methane hydrate is set on fire in this undated file photo.

He added that there would be a demand for gas deposits in Benham Rise “because it’s much cleaner than other fossil fuels.”

Paje said that gas deposits in the area would also enable the country to achieve energy sufficiency.

Aside from Benham Rise, the Philippines has another resource-rich area in the West Philippine Sea, the Kalayaan Island Group which is part of the disputed Spratly Islands claimed by the Philippines. It is also believed to have contained oil and natural gas.

If methane hydrates were developed, it would have a truly transformational impact on energy markets, arguably even more so than the United States shale revolution ever did. Jeremiah A.

To understand more about methane hydrates, watch the video below.



  1. This news is a mouth watering for china.. I hope the government will be wise to handle it so the resources that we have in this territory of ours will be beneficial to the Filipino masses.

    • I very familiar with natural gas minerals. I have two natural gas wells on my property. It is all shipped out to Houston Texas. We don’t benefit from the gas in our state. Temporary jobs. As soon as all the Wells go online they lay everybody off. Who benefits the big gas corporations . Mostly EXXONMOBIL. They have small companies that look big to you, but when you understand EXXONMOBIL owns a majority of the stock market. Then you understand those big corporations are real small. The gas company buy your police officers through companies like Tricorps Security, and the Pinkerton Security Agency. You can never trust your law enforcement anymore. I have been through all of that stuff. Fight these suckered you ll lose your health.

      • That will be the real big problem. Corrupt people are always looking for opportunities on how they can get money out of corruption.

  2. Petroleum corporations especially “transpacific and India even Sweden. Criticism shall offices of DFA,KNPE,KPP,TTP,KNAT,KKI,KUP,KEN and KNEDA. Ratify laws to empower economically efficient Philippines commerce same corruption awaited. Riches how much estimate of NG around 260 trillion cu ft ideal location equivalent “North See” logistically. Cheaper not price, and distribution export it dynamic “Asian markets” India looking. Both Cambodia and Philippines, corruption is concern shall be “diversified public: or state industry where. Problems going to abrupt whom eager to explore prospects “PTTEP,JX Holdings, Eni,PetroChina,Petronos,ButanGas,CPC Corp,Essar Oil,Pertania and Oil India future is bright.
    Doubt revenue benefit social programs, of the Philippines due rampant corruption!

Comments are closed.