New Delhi : The Indian company ‘ONGC Videsh Ltd.’ which has been exploring oil block in the marine area of Vietnam has received a time extension. On the contrary, China has strongly opposed the ongoing exploration activities conducted by the Indian company in the ‘South China Sea.’ Therefore, the time extension provided by Vietnam appears significant. Recently, the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Vietnam Pham Binh Minh had visited India on a tour. Following this Vietnam has decided to grant extension to ‘ONGC Videsh.’
China on many occasions had registered objection on oil exploration by ‘ONGC Videsh’ in the ‘South China Sea’ region. It had said earlier that this exploration was illegal and a breach of its sovereignty. However, ONGC Videsh obstinately continued to explore oil in the region, overlooking the objections raised by China.
China has been tenaciously claiming its rights on the ‘South China Sea.’ This has triggered a huge controversy between China and rest of the countries including Vietnam, Philippines, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia. However, ONGC Videsh continues to carry out its exploration of two oil blocks in this region In 2006, an agreement was signed between India and Vietnam for exploration of oil. Vietnam subsequently extended the period of excavation four times. Thereafter, in 2015 the last extension was granted.
In the month of May, ONGC had once again demanded for an extension of the deadline. Vietnam has approved this demand and the company is granted permission for excavation till 2019. Although any information in this context is not announced yet, however, according to the sources ONGC Videsh is granted an increase in the term of licence to explore oil in block-128.
As a result, India’s strategic interest in the South China Sea area has been sustained. Vietnam has welcomed Indian company to explore oil in the South China Sea in order to confront China’s interventions in this region. In the last few years, all the Southeast Asian countries including India and Vietnam have increased cooperation on all levels. On the background of Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s visit to the US, the Chinese Foreign Ministry had threatened India to stay away from the South China Sea region. Overlooking this, India had taken a resolute stand, claiming that oil exploration cooperation with Vietnam has been within the framework of international regulations, and there has been no question of any violation of the sovereignty of any country.
On account of India’s firm stand, China, which objected to the fuel related cooperation between India and Vietnam, has received a strong slapback. Although currently, the border issues between India and China are far stretched, Vietnam, by offering time extensions to India has further fuelled the concerns of China.