CNOOC & PNOC to Discuss Jointly Exploring Spratlys Islands

Officials from CNOOC are planning to meet with the Philippine Department of Energy to begin talks for the joint exploration oil and gas off the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. It is estimated that the area around the Spratly Islands contains approximately 70 billion barrels of oil.

During the visit, Chinese parliament chairman Wu Bangguo will propose that the two countries begin joint exploration of the area. The Chinese have been eager to explore in the region, however, it has been ignored by other countries claiming sovereignty over the area, including the Philippines.

Other claimants such as Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam insist on sorting out the sovereignty issue first before doing anything else. However, he said the Philippines is now getting practical and is ready to cooperate with China in this regard.

"We jointly welcome efforts to undertake joint exploration and joint development in the Spratlys in the South China Sea," said Jose de Venecia, a spokesperson for the Philippine Congress.

Developing oil and gas reserves in the Spratlys is in line with the Chinese government's energy policy, which places emphasis on E&P off Nansha island in the Spratlys as part of its strategy to ensure sufficient energy supply amid the country's rapid economic development and leveling off of domestic crude oil production.

The Spratlys have long been regarded as a potential flashpoint, with China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam all claiming sovereignty over them. Last year, the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China agreed to avoid any activities that could increase tensions in the Spratlys region.