Manila appears to be testing its relationship with Beijing as Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte considers resuming energy exploration in the tension-laden South China Sea.
Oil and gas drilling in the Reed Bank, located in the international waterway, has been suspended since 2014. That came after Manila launched an international arbitration case against Beijing over the latter's territorial expansion in the South China Sea — an issue that has sparked numerous Philippine protests against the mainland and weighed on bilateral ties.
But activity in the Reed Bank could recommence before year-end, Ismael Ocampo, a director at the Philippines' Department of Energy's Resource Development Bureau, said on Wednesday, Reuters reported. An underwater mountain off the Philippine coast, the feature is believed to hold significant oil and gas deposits.