* Chinese, Japanese, Korean investors keen on investing
* Lifting of suspension on S China Sea exploration under study (Adds quotes, background)
MANILA, Feb 27 (Reuters) - The Philippines needs to build an additional 7,000 megawatts of power generation capacity over the next five years to support its growing economy and is seeking foreign investors in the sector to meet those needs, its energy minister said on Monday.
Investors from China, South Korea and Japan have expressed an interest in participating in Philippine power projects, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi told Reuters in an interview.
The Southeast Asian nation, with a population of more than 100 million people and one of the world’s fastest growing economies, aims to double its power generation capacity by 2030 to avoid a return to the frequent blackouts suffered during the 1990s.
At the end of June 2016, the country had installed capacity of 20,055 megawatts, with a third of it fuelled by coal, according to government data.
“The Philippines is open for business. We want investors,” Cusi said, adding it was the reason why a Manila delegation led by President Rodrigo Duterte visited China last October, when Chinese officials pledged $15 billion of investment to the Philippines.
Cusi also said the Philippines is waiting for clarity on its relations with China before lifting a suspension on oil and natural gas exploration in disputed areas in the South China Sea.
The country is studying whether it is “high time to lift the suspension,” he said.
Cusi said any exploration activities would require approval of the Philippine foreign ministry, which was responsible for consultations with China.
Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz and Martin Petty; Writing by Manolo Serapio Jr.; Editing by Christian Schmollinger