Manila: A unit of Philippine firm Philex Petroleum Corp. plans to start drilling two more wells in disputed waters in the South China Sea even without a partner and despite rising tensions with Beijing, its chairman said.

London-listed Forum Energy Plc will likely start drilling the appraisal wells in its Sampaguita gas field in the Reed Bank, which the Philippines calls Recto Bank, in early 2016, said Philex chairman Manuel Pangilinan.

That means the exploration firm will seek another extension of a drilling permit for the area from the Philippine government. Its current permit expires in August 2015.

China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, while the Philippines and Vietnam, along with Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei, claim parts of it.