Filipino businessman says arbitration to further delay gas exploration bid in South China Sea

A Filipino businessman says the Philippines' elevation of its territorial dispute with China to international arbitration further complicates his company's already delayed bid to explore for oil and gas at the Reed Bank in the South China Sea.

Manuel Pangilinan said Thursday that the issue was no longer just commercial or a question of sovereignty but has become a global one. He says arbitration can last years.

Pangilinan heads Philex Petroleum Corp, majority owner of Forum Energy PLC, which holds an oil and gas exploration contract off the Philippines' western Palawan island.

The Philippines on Tuesday formally notified Beijing it is seeking arbitration before a tribunal operating under the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. It wants China's claims to virtually the entire South China Sea declared unlawful.