Philippines says in talks with China for joint exploration in South China Sea

Activists carry placards during a protest in front of the Chinese consulate in Manila on Feb 10, 2018.
Activists carry placards during a protest in front of the Chinese consulate in Manila on Feb 10, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

MANILA (BLOOMBERG) - The Philippines and China are in talks to jointly pursue oil and gas exploration in disputed waters of the South China Sea, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said Friday (Feb 16).

"I can tell you we are pursuing it aggressively because we need it," Cayetano told reporters.

The Philippines will finalise within three months a legal framework that will allow for joint exploration, he said.

Philippine and Chinese officials met in Manila this week to discuss joint initiatives as the two nations seek to look past contentious maritime issues. China claims almost all of the South China Sea, while the Philippines in 2016 won an international tribunal ruling that rejected China's assertion to the territory.

Manila's ambassador to Beijing, Chito Sta. Romana, on Feb 15 said a group studying the possibility of a joint exploration may come out with its findings as early as this year.

Cayetano said the government is committed to exploring for new sources of energy as the Malampaya gas field, which supplies several Philippine power plants, will eventually run out of supply.