Chinese oil rig off Vietnam completes drilling

BEIJING • The Chinese oil rig at the centre of last year's South China Sea oil exploration stand-off between China and Vietnam has completed the drilling of a well, not far from Vietnam's coast, the official Xinhua News Agency said yesterday.

Xinhua did not give coordinates for the oil well, but China's Maritime Safety Administration website earlier put the drilling site just over 100 nautical miles from the coast of Vietnam, and 75 nautical miles south of the resort city of Sanya, on China's Hainan Island.

China claims most of the potentially energy-rich South China Sea, through which US$5 trillion (S$7 trillion) in shipborne trade passes every year. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have overlapping claims.

China's deployment of the rig - in what Hanoi considers its exclusive economic zone - led to the worst breakdown in relations since a brief border war in 1979.

The US$1 billion deepwater rig, known as the Haiyang Shiyou 981, is owned by the state-run China National Offshore Oil Corp, the country's largest producer of offshore oil and gas.

China's deployment of the rig last year - in what Hanoi considers its exclusive economic zone - led to the worst breakdown in relations since a brief border war in 1979.

Xinhua, citing a company statement, said that the rig had completed China's first high-temperature, high-pressure and deep-water exploration well.

China has also clashed with the Philippines in recent years over a disputed shoal.

Yesterday, China's Foreign Ministry again condemned an arbitration case initiated by the Philippines, saying it was a violation of previous commitments to handle the dispute bilaterally, and an abuse of the legal system. REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 25, 2015, with the headline 'Chinese oil rig off Vietnam completes drilling'. Print Edition | Subscribe