Vietnam protests China’s illegal operation of drilling rig in Vietnamese waters

The Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a statement opposing China’s illegal operation of a drilling rig in Vietnam’s waters in the East Sea

The HD 981 drilling rig of the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) is seen in this file photo.

The Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a statement objecting to China’s illegal operation of a drilling rig in Vietnam’s waters in the East Sea, and the Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam) has demanded that the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) move the rig out of the Southeast Asian country’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.

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On May 3, the Chinese Maritime Safety Administration released a maritime warning on its website, saying that China’s drilling rig HD 981 began operating in a location of 15°29’58’’ North latitude and 111°12’06’’ East longitude in the East Sea on May 2 and will continue to operate until August 15, said Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Le Hai Binh.

In the warning, the Chinese Maritime Safety Administration also bans all vessels from entering the area where the rig is operating within a radius of one nautical mile. 
 
The announced location of the drilling rig is totally within the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of Vietnam, about 119 nautical miles (221 km) from Ly Son Island off the central Vietnamese province of Quang Ngai and 18 nautical miles south of Tri Ton Island of Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago, the spokesman said.

“Vietnam has full historical evidence and legal grounds to prove its sovereignty over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos as well as sovereign rights and jurisdiction over its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf in accordance with the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea,” Binh said.

The diplomat stressed that “any activities conducted by foreign countries in Vietnam’s waters without Vietnam’s permission is illegal and void. Vietnam resolutely opposes such activities.”

Request for removal of rig

PetroVietnam, the national oil group, has also released a statement saying that on May 2, CNOOC put the drilling rig HD 981 into operation about 120 nautical miles from Vietnam’s coast and within the country’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.

The fact that CNOOC operates the rig in this location has violated Vietnam’s sovereign and jurisdictional rights according to the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, PetroVietnam said.

On May 4, PetroVietnam sent a letter to the president and general director of CNOOC that strongly opposed the violation and demanded that CNOOC stop the operation of the drilling rig and move the platform out of Vietnam’s waters.

The above action by CNOOC goes against the cooperative spirit between the national oil and gas groups of both countries, the practice of international oil and gas activities, and the friendly and cooperative principles between Vietnam and China, PetroVietnam said in the letter. 

PetroVietnam requests that CNOOC not repeat similar actions in the future.

In talking with Tuoi Tre newspaper on May 4 about the illegal operation of the CNOOC drilling rig, Dang Cong Ngu, chairman of Hoang Sa District, central Da Nang City, said, “This is a perverse and illegal action, as the location of the CNOOC drilling rig is within the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of Vietnam. As the chairman of Hoang Sa District, I strongly oppose this action.”

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