China to Look for Oil in Spratlys

Tuesday, August 30, 2005
A Chinese firm has won a joint contract from the state oil companies of the Philippines, Vietnam and China to search for oil in a disputed area of the South China Sea, according to a report from The Philippine Star.

China Oilfield Services Ltd. (COS), a subsidiary of China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC), was reportedly given the go-ahead to explore near the disputed Spratly island chain after agreement by the three nationalized conglomerates, Xinhua news agency said.

CNOOC, Philippine National Oil Co. (PNOC), and Vietnam Oil and Gas Corp., also known as PetroVietnam, agreed in March to conduct seismic work programs — setting off explosions to monitor the shock waves for pockets of oil and gas — over three years covering an area of about 143,000 square kilometers.

Sources from the Department of Defense in Manila claimed the arrival of the Chinese research vessel was a result of a series of dialogues between the three countries, the latest of which was held in Davao City recently.

Sources also said China will provide the modern marine research vessel. The Philippines and Vietnam, on the other hand, are tasked to provide boat guides and research staff to augment Chinese personnel for the exploration activities.

Seismic and oil exploration had been initially scheduled to last for about three to six months but the project could go on longer if necessary, sources claimed.

The exploration award was announced weeks after CNOOC’s $18.5-billion bid to buy the US-based Unocal was turned down by shareholders of the US company. (Source: The Philippine Star)

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