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In a move that could make China uneasy, India and Vietnam have decided to enhance oil and gas exploration in South China Sea with Hanoi offering seven blocks for offshore exploration in the South China Sea to the state-owned ONGC Videsh Limited.
This is the fine-print of an MoU between OVL and PetroVietnam signed here after the meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and visiting general secretary of communist party of Vietnam, Nguyen Phu Trong here on Wednesday, it has reliably learnt.
China had kicked up a diplomatic row with New Delhi against India’s oil exploration activities in the disputed South China Sea though Vietnam in the past said they are well within their rights to seek partnership with India on oil exploration. HT had first reported the row over the issue between India and China in September 2011.
As per the MoU which has been signed for three years, some of the blocks to be evaluated and responded to by OVL in a short period of time indicating their interest in production sharing agreements.
For others, OVL will carry out the evaluation and discuss with PetroVietnam Exploration and Production Corporation (PVEP) the terms and conditions for contract farm-in.
In fact, OVL had signed its first petroleum production contract with Vietnam for offshore Block 6.1 and commercial production started in 2003.
The OVL had also secured offshore deepwater Block 127 and 128 in 2006. Since then it has relinquished Block 127 and the deadline for responding to 128 expires next year with OVL likely to give it up on account of it not being “techno-commercial” viable.
The MoU signed on Wednesday provides for association in the field of exploration, development and production of petroleum resources between the two countries for new investments by OVL in oil and gas blocks in Vietnam for oil and gas exploration and production. Petro Vietnam is also invited to participate in open blocks in India and in third countries.