By Bloomberg News
China National Offshore Oil Corp.
offered foreign companies oil and gas blocks that lie near
waters also claimed by Vietnam and Japan as tensions flare among
the countries over rights to resources in the area.
The state-owned oil and gas explorer put up 26 blocks in
this year’s second round of auctions, according to a statement
dated yesterday on the Beijing-based company’s website. A site
known as 65/12 is within 50 kilometers (31 miles) of the Paracel
Islands in the South China Sea near a block put up for bid last
year that prompted a protest from Vietnam.
The offer by China’s biggest offshore energy company comes
as tensions rise among Asia’s biggest economies following moves
to assert sovereignty over disputed islands that are potentially
rich in energy resources. Assailants in Beijing yesterday
blocked an official car carrying the Japanese ambassador to
China and snatched the Japanese flag from the vehicle, according
to Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura.
“China must assert its sovereignty over these blocks as
preliminary geological assessments suggest huge oil and gas
exploration potential,” Gordon Kwan, the Hong Kong-based head
of regional energy research at Mirae Asset Securities Ltd., said
in an e-mail. “China’s rising global dominance can fend off any
political or military challenges that could come” because of
the new tenders, he said.
The round of auctions will include 22 blocks for joint
development in the South China Sea, according to the statement.
Three are in the East China Sea and one is in northern China’s
Block 65/12 is near Block 65/24, which Vietnam singled out
in a March statement as violating its sovereignty. The area sits
one nautical mile from the Paracel Islands, which China and
Vietnam fought over in 1974.
In June, China invited foreign companies to explore nine
blocks to the east of Vietnam in areas that Hanoi’s leaders have
already awarded to companies including Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) and
Russia’s OAO Gazprom. Vietnam’s state-run oil explorer called on
China to cancel the tenders.
Claimants have moved to assert administrative control over
islands in the South China Sea, with Vietnam passing a maritime
law in June and China planning to set up a military garrison on
one of the Paracels. Vietnam, China, Malaysia, the Philippines,
Taiwan and Brunei also claim rights to some or all of the
Spratly Islands further to the south.
One of the blocks offered in this round, known as 41/08, is
within 200 kilometers of the island group in the East China Sea
that China names Diaoyu and Japan calls Senkaku, according to
the map in the statement. It appears to fall west of an
overlapping claims area between the two countries.
The attack on the Japanese envoy’s car came days after
protests erupted in China during tit-for-tat visits to the
islands by activists from both sides.
The isles have been a flash point between the world’s
second and third-largest economies, underlined by a 2010
collision between a Chinese fishing vessel and Japanese Coast
Guard ships that damaged political ties for months.
China National Offshore, the parent company of Hong Kong-
listed Cnooc Ltd. (883), said it has conducted some seismic tests in
all 26 blocks, and has drilled test wells in all but seven of
Hong Kong: Silversea’s winter/spring line up of
itineraries sees the Silver Shadow and Silver Whisper coming to the
region from September to May.
From late October to December this year, the Silver Shadow will
offer a series of nine- and 11-day sailings from Hong Kong, Bangkok or
Singapore to destinations in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.
Meanwhile, the 115-day world cruise aboard Silver Whisper starts
from Los Angeles on January 5 calling 52 ports in 28 countries
including Hong Kong and Singapore. Because the ship is smaller than
many cruise liners, holding just 382 guests, it can call at smaller
harbours inaccessible to larger ships.
Italian Silversea entered the Chinese market in 2007 setting up its
own general agent, Mytour Company. Silversea is now actively developing
a cruise tailored to the Chinese market.