The Philippines only received bids from domestic firms to conduct oil and gas explorations in areas of the South China Sea also claimed by China, as international oil majors chose to stay out of the bidding, Bloomberg reported. Helios Petroleum and Gas bid on two blocks, while a group of investors including Philex Petroleum submitted a bid for another. The Philippine Energy department had preapproved 40 firms to participate in the auction, including foreign firms such as Royal Dutch Shell (RDSA.LON, RDSA. AMS), ExxonMobil (XOM.NYSE, XONA.FRA) and Total SA (TOT.NYSE, TTA.LON, FP.EPA). However, the Philippines is satisfied with the overall turnout, according to Energy Undersecretary Jose Layug. “We normally receive bids from medium-size companies, not from the big boys,” he said. Two of the three areas that were bid out are also claimed by China, and the sovereignty dispute may have kept foreign firms away.