Second rig starts drilling in South China Sea, China says


Second rig starts drilling in South China Sea, China says

BEIJING (Bloomberg) -- China said one of its oil rigs has arrived in its drilling location in the South China Sea, more than 100 miles (160 km) off the coast of Vietnam.

The Nanhai 9 drilling platform started operating on June 24 and will finish Aug. 20, according to a statement on the website of China’s Maritime Safety Administration. The rig is about 60 nautical miles off the port of Sanya on Hainan island, it said.

China’s placement on May 2 of a similar rig in waters disputed with Vietnam set off weeks of skirmishes between boats from the two countries and triggered deadly anti-Chinese riots in Vietnam. The Nanhai 9 is one of four rigs deployed since May 2 in the South China Sea and is currently in Chinese waters.

Vietnam’s National Assembly Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung told legislators this week that Vietnam’s sovereignty and security as well as regional peace are “threatened” by China’s decision to place the original rig off Vietnam’s coast.

A Vietnamese fishing boat was rammed on June 23 while conducting law-enforcement activities near the rig which is placed off the contested Paracel Islands, causing “serious damage,” Vietnam Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Hai Binh said today, June 26, at a briefing in Hanoi. China deployed as many as 125 vessels near the rig between June 16 and 25, Ngo Ngoc Thu, a Vietnam Coast Guard vice commander, said at the briefing.

Vietnam expresses “extreme concern” over the situation with the second oil rig and asks China not to escalate the situation, Binh said. He called for China to create a “favorable atmosphere” for discussions on how to demarcate the sea area outside the Gulf of Tonkin.

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