Philippines eyes oil, gas deal with China in South China Sea within months

The Philippines is looking to seal a pact with China within a few months to jointly explore for oil and gas in a part of the busy South China Sea waterway claimed by both countries, a Philippine official said on Monday.

The two countries agreed in February to set up a special panel to work out how to jointly explore for offshore oil and gas in areas both sides claim, without needing to address the touchy issue of sovereignty.

Were trying to see if we can achieve an agreement, hopefully within the next couple of months, Jose Santiago Santa Romana, Philippine ambassador to the Peoples Republic of China, told a news conference held on Chinas island province of Hainan.

Philippines says any South China Sea energy deals with China will be solely commercial agreements

There is political willingness to land a deal, but both parties could take as much time as needed to ensure the goals are met, Santa Romana said at the event, adding that the Philippines aimed to boost its energy security.

Beijing claims most of the South China Sea, a key trade route with areas believed to hold large quantities of oil and natural gas. Parts of it are subject to competing claims from Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam, besides the Philippines.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday flew to China for the Boao Forum for Asia and will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday.

The Philippines identified two areas last month in the South China Sea where joint exploration for oil and gas may be undert....

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