Filipino firm eyes partner in S China Sea gas deal

AP News
Posted: Jan 17, 2013 6:40 AM

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A Filipino businessman says delays in his company's oil and gas exploration at a South China Sea reef claimed by China and the Philippines can be overcome if an international operator joins the project.

Manuel Pangilinan said Thursday his group has asked state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corp., a potential partner, to allow an international operator to join to skirt the sovereignty question.

Pangilinan is chairman of Philex Petroleum Corp., majority owner of London-based Forum Energy PLC, the contractor.

He says an international operator "will internationalize the situation and depoliticize the arrangements."

The Philippines and China claim the Reed Bank that lies in the South China Sea off the Philippines' western Palawan Island.

Chinese ships tried to drive away a Philippine exploration vessel near the area in March 2011.