Jun 192013

MANILA, Philippines – Philex Petroleum Corp. chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said their discussions with China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) remains “very preliminary.”

“I think I was asked earlier if there was a discussion with CNOOC and that continues on a very preliminary basis but (there is) nothing concrete to report,” Pangilinan told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo yesterday.

When asked whether he is optimistic that the plan to explore and develop the gas-rich Recto Bank will push through, Pangilinan said: “I think it’s hard to say. At this stage, talks are very preliminary.”

Earlier, Philex said it is considering forging a partnership with CNOOC to explore and develop the Recto Bank, which is located within 80 nautical miles from Palawan.

The gas-rich area is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Philippines and China.

In 2011, two Chinese ships reportedly bullied a civilian vessel commissioned by the Energy department while conducting an oil exploration survey in the area.

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China has denied the allegation and has consistently claimed that it has “indisputable sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea islands and their surrounding waters. 

Pangilinan maintained that his company is just discussing purely business issues with CNOOC.

“We made it very clear to CNOOC that we are not authorized to talk about government issues so that’s why the talks are very preliminary at this stage,” the businessman said.

“I’m sure they will have to go back to their government and we will go back to our government because we have to respect our laws (and) follow regulations,” he added.

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