Filipino-UK firm to drill for gas in disputed sea

South China Sea27 September 2014, Philippines — The chairman of a Philippine energy company said Friday a Chinese state-owned oil producer hasn’t responded to a revived proposal to jointly explore a disputed area of the South China Sea but drilling will go ahead by 2016 with or without a partnership.

Manuel Pangilinan said that Filipino-British company Forum Energy PLC communicated the offer to China National Offshore Oil Corp. to explore Reed Bank, northwest of the Philippine island of Palawan.

Philippine and Chinese vessels had a confrontation there three years ago. Pangilinan said the Chinese company, also known as CNOOC, has not responded but Forum is continuing its attempts to engage with the Chinese company.

He said the project has not attracted other investors because it is in an area of conflicting territorial claims and other investors did not want to offend China. Pangilinan is chairman of Philex Petroleum Corp., majority owner of London-based Forum Energy that has been awarded the exploration contract.

He had an initial meeting with CNOOC President Yang Hua in 2012, but the talks have stalled, with the territorial conflict hampering exploration in the area. Pangilinan said Forum still intends to drill two wells in first half of 2016. “We will do it on our own if we have to … as long as we are not disturbed,” he said. 


– AP

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