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Vietnam Calls Off Drilling In South China Sea

Vietnam has called off a drilling expedition in the South China Sea after reported pressure from Beijing, the BBC reports, citing an unnamed industry source. The source said that the company that was drilling in the Block 136-03, a unit of Spain’s Repsol, has been asked to stop drilling. The report has been confirmed by a diplomatic source in Vietnam, the BBC added.

Oilprice reported at the start of this month that Vietnam had allowed a drillship Deepsea Metro I to start drilling in the Block 163-03 about 250 miles off the Vietnamese coast. The problem with the block is not just that it is in disputed waters. China, which calls it Wan-an Bei 21, had already leased the block to another driller, Brightoil – a Hong Kong company with close ties to Beijing. Recently, however, the company denied having the drilling rights to Wan-an Bei 21, the BBC notes.

The report about the start of drilling came soon after a week earlier, a senior Chinese military official cut short a visit to Vietnam. Fan Changlong, vice-chairman of China’s Central Military Commission, was visiting Vietnam for a “defense border meeting,” as China’s Xinhua agency reported at the time, but left early because of “working arrangements."

The true reason for the departure, the BBC suggested at the time, may have been news about what Deepsea Metro I is doing in the disputed area.

Related: Daily OPEC Oil Prices Now Public For The First Time Ever

China has territorial claims to about 90 percent of the South China Sea, which has put it at odds with its neighbors. Last year, the Philippines won a court case against Beijing regarding its territorial claims but China said at the time that it would ignore the decision of the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration.

The South China Sea may hold 28 billion barrels of oil, according to an estimate from the U.S. Geological Survey from the mid-90s. With technology improvements, this figure could have since increased substantially. Vietnam has welcomed several foreign companies into its oil and gas industry, including Rosneft and Gazprom, as well as Exxon.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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  • Brian Ghilliotti on July 24 2017 said:
    I do not think that the United States will let this one go by, especially when one of its controlling corporations has been affected. I laugh when I hear these stupid hillbillies talk about how much they hate Venezuela and Maduro because he is a communist, yet one of our primary allies against the Chinese East Asia, Vietnam, is a communist nation. We will see if this bullying goes unchecked. Anyways, just think how many of these hillbillies have their sons and daughters in the US military, potentially being sent off in a sea and air confrontation with China, over an underwater oil patch owned by a nation that they themselves fought against a generation ago. Brian Ghilliotti
  • alfa on July 24 2017 said:
    I've just looked at the map to see where this block is.
    And nothing represents my thought better than the Thucydides' words.
    "Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must".

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