Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on June 10 said there was “no specific information” about China having completed the installation of the world’s largest drilling rig and preparing to launch the Lang Thuy field, south of Hainan Island, in the East Sea (South China Sea), where Vietnam and many other countries have overlapping claims.
“However, it is necessary to reiterate Vietnam’s clear and consistent position: Relevant parties should fully respect the lawful rights and interests of Vietnam’s seas, especially Vietnam’s exclusive economic zones and continental shelf is established on the basis of UNCLOS 1982 as well as relevant bilateral international treaties,” Spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang was quoted as saying by the press when asked about information about the Chinese deployment of the “world’s largest drilling rig.”
Previously, Global Times on May 30 reported that China Hai Duong Oil and Gas Corporation (CNOOC) said that it had finished installing equipment on the drilling rig named “Deep Sea No. 1” on May 29. and this is the world’s first largest semi-submersible mining rig, with a weight of 100,000 tons.
CNOOC added that the rig will be towed to the Lingshui gas field, off Hainan Island, in early June and begin production in the same month.
Lang Thuy area includes oil and gas blocks Lang Thuy 17-2, Lang Thuy 25-1, Lang Thuy 18-1, and Lang Thuy 18-2, located about 150 km from Hainan Island.
Since June 2020, CNOOC has drilled the first production well in a total of 11 wells at Lot Lang Thuy 17-2. It is estimated that after coming into operation, the Lang Thuy 17-2 block will provide a quarter of the annual gas for the Guangdong-Hongkong-Macau Great Bay area, and will become a new energy center in the South China Sea. Meanwhile, the “Deep Sea No. 1” rig alone is estimated to be able to extract up to 3 billion cubic meters of natural gas.
CNOOC is the owner of the oil rig Hai Duong 981, which violated Vietnamese waters in 2014, causing a tense confrontation between Beijing and Hanoi over sovereignty in the area. Compared to the size, the rig “Deep Sea No. 1” is 3 times larger than the HD-981 rig.
The sending of oil rigs to explore and exploit oil and gas in the South China Sea is one of the activities promoted by China in recent years to assert its sovereignty claims in the disputed sea area.