China Sending 4 Rigs To S China Sea Amid Tensions
China is sending four oil rigs into the South China Sea in a sign that Beijing its stepping up its exploration for oil and gas in the tense region, less than two months after it positioned a giant drilling platform in waters claimed by Vietnam.
Coordinates posted on the website of China's Maritime Safety Administration showed the Nanhai number 2 and 5 rigs would be deployed roughly between southern China and the Pratas islands, which are occupied by Taiwan. The Nanhai 4 rig would be towed close to the Chinese coast.
The agency, which did not say who owns the rigs, said all three would be in place by Aug. 12.
Earlier this week, it gave coordinates for a fourth rig, the Nanhai 9, which would be positioned just outside Vietnam's exclusive economic zone by Friday.
The announcement comes at a time when many countries in Asia, particularly Vietnam and the Philippines, are nervous at China's increasing assertiveness in the South China Sea, where sovereignty over countless islands and reefs is in dispute.
The Global Times, a popular tabloid published by the Communist Party's official People's Daily, quoted Zhuang Guotu, director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at Xiamen University, as calling the rig deployment a "strategic move".
It was unclear if the four rigs were part of those projects. A CNOOC spokesman declined to comment, but the company has long said that in a bid to boost production it wanted to explore in deeper waters offChina.
CNOOC has said it would increase by up to a third its annual capital spending for 2014 to almost $20 billion.
(Reporting by Megha Rajagopalan and Charlie Zhu; Editing by Dean Yates)