Wednesday, Oct 22, 2014

Countering China: Vietnam offers five blocks to India on nomination basis

Written by Amitav Ranjan | New Delhi | Posted: November 21, 2013 2:16 am

A week after roping in Russia to invest in oil and gas blocks,Hanoi has offered India five exploratory blocks to ensure New Delhi’s presence in countering China’s enormous economic influence and territorial claims on Vietnam.

The blocks — 17,41,43,10 & 11-1 and 102 & 106/10 — have been offered on nomination basis whereby India’s ONGC Videsh Ltd would not have to go through a bidding round of offering the best production sharing contracts to win the blocks. An MoU has been signed between both nations during Vietnamese Communist Party general secretary Nguyen Phu Trong’s four-day visit which started on Wednesday.

The agreement is for joint development of these blocks where OVL would carry out the evaluation of their prospect. “In case any block interests OVL,we shall submit to PetroVietnam a proposal for production sharing that would be negotiated under the petroleum laws of Vietnam,” sources said.

They said Vietnam offered a farm-in into a discovered gas field which is awaiting development approvals but a final decision on that would have to wait for the finalisation of its gas price. “If that matures,Vietnam has indicated that it would be willing to waive its first right of refusal,” they said.

The block holds four trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

OVL sources said that the exploratory blocks given on nomination basis were not located in the disputed waters where Beijing and Hanoi are battling overlapping sovereignty claims. Hanoi is targeting Russia,India and Japan to counter pressure from China as their presence would serve as a deterrent.

“I believe that peace,stability,maritime security and cooperation for mutual benefits in the East Sea represent the essential interest of countries within and outside the region. We highly appreciate India’s constructive position on this issue,” Trong told PTI in an interview.

Despite China’s objections to Indian oil exploration in South China Sea,Vietnam has been asserting that India has the right to pursue oil exploration there as they were within Vietnamese “exclusive economic zone”.

Vietnam claims the water body to be its East Sea. OVL relinquished Block 127 in offshore Phu Khanh Basin as the well B127-NT-1X was found dry. It plans to withdraw from adjacent 128 which is under extended exploration phase-1 until June 15,2014.

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