Bloomberg reported on 29th that India’s state-owned Oil- Natural Gas Corp. plans to revive exploration activity in “waters where China and Vietnam have disputes”. It commented that the move to assert India’s “commercial rights” in a contested area may be a sign that India is joining the US and the other Asia-Pacific nations to check China’s “territorial ambitions”.
Bloomberg quoted a person with direct knowledge of the matter that India had acquired drilling rights of the place early in 2006, three years before China invited bids for the same area.
The company has got the approval from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration to drill exploratory wells in the area. “It’s clear that India has interests in the South China Sea as is evident by deepening maritime relations with the US and Japan,” said Ralf Emmers, associate dean at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.” And certainly China has been more active in the Indian Ocean, making Delhi a bit nervous.”
It is reported that the South China Sea is estimated to hold as much as 30 billion metric tones of oil and 16 trillion cubic metres of gas, which would account for about one-third of China’s oil and gas resources. India hasn’t drilled a single well in the area since it was awarded rights in nine years ago. In 2012, China invited foreign companies including Exxon Mobil Corp. to explore oil and gas resources in the area.
Press Trust of India reported that India had got involved in exploring petroleum in South China Sea and gained an oilfield early in 1988. After that it had again acquired the rights of exploring two oilfields in the area in 2006. Both oilfields are in China’s territory. India decided to quit exploring on one of the oilfields after gaining no fruits, but it remains its existence around the other oilfield.
Bloomberg reported on 29th that the Foreign Ministry of China warned India in a faxed statement to avoid any exploration activities in disputed areas. The Foreign Ministry said: “It’s illegal of any foreign enterprises conducts activities in waters under Chinese jurisdiction without permission,” “related parties should avoid taking actions that will make disputes complicated.”
Since taking power last year, Modi has invested in India’s navy and called for protecting freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. He’s also bolstered defense ties in the region, agreeing to sell Vietnam four offshore patrol boats and approving India’s first-ever naval exercises with Australia.
Although India often gets involved in issues related to South China Sea recently, Uday Bhaskar, director of Society for Policy Studies in New Delhi appealed that India must be cautious about the issue. He said: “India lacks the ability to match China both militarily and economically. Will India go to war with China over this? The answer is no.”