MANILA, Philippines (AP) -- A Philippine official says a Filipino-British company has begun talks with China's state-owned offshore oil producer for a deal to jointly explore for oil and gas in the Reed Bank.
The Reed Bank is a vast offshore area disputed between China and the Philippines.
Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla said Wednesday the talks between London-based Forum Energy plc and China's state firm were at a preliminary stage. He added a commercial agreement can hopefully be reached despite the long-raging disputes over the Reed Bank.
President Benigno Aquino III says any such deal with China will have to conform to Philippine laws. He says Reed Bank lies well within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.
Chinese ships tried to drive away a Philippine exploration vessel near the bank in 2011.