The Philippines will open bidding today on three areas in the South China Sea for energy companies to explore for oil and gas, despite conflicting claims from China to two of the areas, Reuters reported. The Philippine Energy Department has prequalified 15 firms to make bids including Australia’s Nido Petroleum (NDO.ASX), Spain’s Repsol, France’s GDF Suez (GSZ.EPA) and Italy’s Eni (E.NYSE). One of the areas up for bidding is near Reed Bank, the site of a standoff between Chinese and Philippine vessels earlier this month. Jose Layug, undersecretary in Manila’s Department of Energy, said that the three areas open for bidding are well within the country’s 200 mile exclusive economic zone as dlineated under the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The Philippines has already opened bids on 12 other tracts in the South China Sea with those auctions drawing mostly domestic firms.