MANILA – China and the Philippines agreed to form working groups to explore commercial oil and gas agreements in the West Philippine Sea, an official said after President Rodrigo Duterte met his Beijing counterpart Thursday.
Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC) and China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) will be part of a "working group," while Philippine and Chinese energy ministries and concerned agencies will be part of the steering committee, said Philippine Ambassador to China Chito Sta. Romana said in a statement.
"PNOC & CNOOC will be part of working group, not steering committee. Steering committee will be composed of PH & CH foreign & energy ministries & other designated gov't agencies," Sta. Romana said.
A commercial deal may be out as early as November, Bloomberg reported.
“Our goal is to come up with commercial agreements,” Sta. Romana told Bloomberg in an interview.
President Xi Jinping said the “steering committee should prepare a substantive program on the matter” when Duterte raised the possible joint gas exploration in the West Philippine Sea during their bilateral meeting on Thursday, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.
Philippines is open to share oil resources in the West Philippine Sea with China as long as Manila gets the bigger share, Duterte earlier said.
State-run CNOOC has a 51 percent interest in the Calamian project in Palawan, while PNOC has 28 percent stake.
China, meanwhile, reiterated its claimed in the disputed areas in the South China Sea after Duterte raised the Philippines’ legal victory in the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.
However, the leaders agreed that their opposing claims “need not derail nor diminish the amity between the 2 countries,” Panelo said.
-- with a report from Reuters