MANILA, Philippines - London-listed Forum Energy Plc has obtained approval from the Philippine government to extend by one year its drilling plan for a natural gas project in the disputed Reed Bank (Recto Bank) area of the South China Sea.
The deadline for completion of the drilling of two appraisal wells has now been extended to Aug. 15, 2016, Forum said in a filing to the London Stock Exchange.
Forum has a 70 percent interest in Service Contract (SC) 72, an oil and gas exploration permit covering the Sampaguita natural gas prospect in the Reed Bank, to the west of the Philippine island of Palawan.
Territorial disputes between the Philippines and China have so far hampered Forum's plan to drill two appraisal wells in the SC 72 exploration permit.
In 2011, Chinese patrol vessels almost rammed a Forum-contracted survey ship in the Reed Bank.
The Philippines' Philex Petroleum Corp. - which holds a 60.45 percent direct and indirect stake in Forum - posted a copy of the London filing to the Philippine Stock Exchange on Thursday.
In May, Philex Petroleum Chairman Manuel Pangilinan said Forum will likely start drilling in the Reed Bank, which the Philippines calls Recto Bank, in early 2016 despite rising tensions with Beijing.
Appraisal wells are drilled to assess the size of gas or oil discoveries.
China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, while the Philippines and Vietnam, along with Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei, claim parts of it.