Philippines gets 36 bidders for energy exploration blocks
At least 36 firms have signed up as possible bidders for 15 oil and gas exploration blocks in the southwestern Philippines, an official said, including two sites in the South China Sea which China claims as its own.
No Chinese companies were on the initial list of possible bidders, which so far includes French gas and power firm GDF Suez and Italy's ENI, Energy Undersecretary Jose Layug said. Other bidders include Philex Petroleum, PetroEnergy Resources, Shell's local unit Shell Philippines Exploration, and Nido Petroleum.
The deadline for bids is later this month, and Layug said he expected the contracts to be awarded by July at the earliest.
Officials estimate the total investment required to develop the blocks at $ 7.5 bn.
Several Southeast Asian countries, including the Philippines, are locked in maritime territorial disputes with China over the South China Sea, an area believed to be rich in oil and natural gas.
Earlier, the energy minister said China had asked the Philippines to clarify the position of two blocks, which he said Beijing believes may be part of the disputed Spratlys islands which both nations claim as their own.