Philippines, China to work out how to tap oil, gas that both sides claim

From Reuters - February 13, 2018

MANILA (Reuters) - The Philippines and China have agreed to set up a special panel to work out how they can jointly explore oil and gas in part of the South China Sea that both sides lay claim without having to address the explosive issue of sovereignty.

China claims most of the South China Sea, where $3 billion in sea-borne trade pass every year, and has competing claims in various parts of it with Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Its just the start of a process, Philippine ambassador to China, Chito Sta. Romana, told reporters late on Tuesday after diplomats from both sides met for the second time under a bilateral mechanism aimed at defusing longstanding maritime tensions.

He said the decision to form a working group on cooperating on energy was a breakthrough.

Forming an agreement for a joint project would be extremely complex and sensitive as both countries claim jurisdiction of the site of the oil and gas reserves, so sharing them could be deemed legitimizing the other sides claim, or even ceding sovereign territory.

The idea of joint development was first hatched in 1986, but disputes and the sovereignty issue have stopped it from materializing.


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