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World: Filipino, China oil firms eye deal in disputed sea

Source: The Associated Press

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A Filipino-British company has begun talks with China's state-owned offshore oil producer for an oil- and gas-exploration deal in part of the South China Sea where Philippine and Chinese vessels were involved in a confrontation just two and a half years ago.

If a deal is struck, it would be the first between China and the Philippines involving territory in the sea that both countries claim.

Philippine Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla said Wednesday that talks between Forum Energy plc and China National Offshore Oil Corporation, or CNOOC, to develop an area of the Reed Bank were at a preliminary stage. Both China and the Philippines would have to approve a deal, but Petilla expressed hope that a commercial agreement could be reached despite the long-raging disputes over the Reed Bank, a vast offshore area claimed by both countries.

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