By Rakesh Neelakandan
Quoting relevant sources, Teshu Singh, Research Officer at IPCS (Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies) has commented that India has not violated any sovereign rights of China by taking up exploration in South China Sea.
Recently, China has objected to Indian exploration initiatives in two Vietnamese oil blocks in the South China Sea to which Beijing lays claim. But India was quick to respond that India’s position was guided by international laws.
Teshu Singh said: “India has not violated any sovereign right of China by taking up exploration the SCS –Defense Minister George Fernandes in April 2000, while launching of INS Brahmaputra asserted that India’s maritime “area of Interest …extends from the north of the Arabian Sea to the SCS”.”
IPCS, a New Delhi based think tank, conducts independent research on conventional and non-conventional security issues whose voice is highly respected in policy circles.
According to media reports, China has pitted itself against offshore Block 127 and Block 128, for which ONGC Videsh –State owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation’s foreign arm—entered into deal with Vietnam.
Block 128 is an offshore deepwater Block, located at water depth of more than 400 metres with 7,058 sq km area in Vietnam. In September 2009, ONGC Videsh had deployed drilling rig on Block 128; however, the well could not be drilled with the rig as it had difficulty in anchoring at the location due to hard sea bed.
“The drilling activity was terminated and it is planned that the location shall be drilled in 2012 subjected to successful field testing of anchors.” ONGC Videsh Annual Report for last fiscal said.
ONGC Videsh has invested approximately $46 million till 31st March, 2011 in the block. In fact, the total investments by ONGC Videsh in Vietnam total to $225 million.
Besides ONGC Videsh, Indian private firm, Essar Exploration and Production has also been allocated an oil block in Vietnam.
India has Vietnam support
Asked what is the stand taken by Vietnam on the issue and given the geopolitical realities, will Vietnam stay on Indian side in the event of a crisis, Teshu Singh responded:
“Vietnamese government stands in support of the Indian Government. With the ongoing developments where the two countries are adding greater content to their bilateral relations in defense and security, education, trade and investment, culture and other areas one can affirm that Vietnam will stay on Indian side.”
She is of the opinion that, “the face off should not have any negative effect on the pursuit of Indian ambition in securing resources in the SCS (South China Sea); official spokesman of India’s External Affair ministry, Vishnu Prakash, has said “Our cooperation with Vietnam or any other country for that matter in the world is always as per as international; law, norms and convention”.”
With India and China growth stories assuming legendary dimensions, the colossal needs of both nations in energy have pushed the countries into fighting verbal wars that may gain din in coming years.