New Delhi: China has drawn India into South China Sea diplomatic mess by putting up a Vietnamese petroleum block under exploration by an Indian oil firm for global auction, according to a newspaper report.
As per reports, this move was meant to counter a Hanoi legislation asserting the country’s control over offshore areas and islands. China considers this as disputed. This has put India in a fix as Vietnam wants India not to vacate this block.
Amidst all this, New Delhi for the first time has demanded for “access to resources in accordance with principles of international law”, as quoted by the newspaper. This was at last week’s ASEAN Regional Forum meet in Cambodia. All this while, India has always maintained the ‘freedom of navigation” in South China Sea.
ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL) was contracted 128 blocks, which were part of the nine petroleum blocks that were placed for global bidding by China Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) last month. Recently the blocks put up for bidding were compared to existing blocks already given out by Vietnam in the same area, the newspaper further said. It also maintained that the results show that a substantive part of block 128 is also covered by the grid of blocks put up for offer by CNOOC.
Reacting sharply, Vietnam has supposedly said that all these blocks fall in its Exclusive Economic Zone and are in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS).
In an earlier development, OVL had decided to exit this block sometime back as it had failed to start drilling activity according to the schedule outlined in the original contract. However, OVL said that the surveys that they had conducted did show much promise for any big finds.
Subsequently, as per sources, Petrovietnam once again approached OVL with new terms and conditions allowing it two more years for exploration. It is said that OVL is inclined to extend its exploration activity in block 128.
Thus, India has to take some crucial decisions on the issue to avoid diplomatic uneasiness.
First Published: Tuesday, July 17, 2012, 09:32