ONGC to explore Oil in South China Sea despite China’s Objections

State-owned ONGC-Videsh will go ahead with the exploration of oil in the South China Sea despite China’s objections, a top company official said here Tuesday.

“ONGC-Videsh was selected through an international bid to explore oil in South China Sea. There is nothing wrong with it,” Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) chairman and managing director (CMD) Sudhir Vasudeva told reporters.

“If there is any dispute in the South China Sea, it is between China and Vietnam. If there are territorial rows, it’s for those parties involved to sort them out. India is not involved in these affairs,” he said.

Vasudeva was reacting to China’s objection to joint exploration by ONGC-Videsh and a Vietnamese oil company in the South China Sea.

He said as for ONGC-Videsh’s exploring oil in the South China Sea, it was simply commercial activity without any political connotations.

“However, the Indian government is the appropriate authority to take apt steps in this regard and to make clear everything,” he said.

Three ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) members — Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines — are in a bitter dispute with China over the ownership of the 52 islands in South China Sea.

China directly controls only seven of the 52 islands in the area. But it claims ownership of 90 percent of the area. Vietnam has control over 40 of the islands, the Philippines nine, Malaysia five and Taiwan one.

Accompanied by the company’s six directors and a magaging director, Vasudeva was here to attend the annual general meeting of the ONGC Tripura Power Company Ltd (OTPC), which was formed a few years back to set up the ONGC’s first commercial 726 MW capacity thermal power project at southern Tripura’s Palatana, 60 km south of here.

The gas-based thermal power project, being commissioned at a cost of Rs.9,000 crore, will resolve the power crisis of Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Nagaland, Mizoram and Tripura states.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had laid the foundation stone of the giant power project in October 2005.

the ONGC chief said for exploration of oil and gas, the Indian basin has become limited. Hence, the company is going for acquisition of new exploratory areas abroad.

“Our main focus now is to explore oil and gas in the deep sea water. Our performance is much better than last year. ONGC is doing better everywhere.”

Expressing satisfaction over speedy commissioning of the company’s first mega commercial (Palatana) power project, the ONGC chief said the plant would start producing electricity from June.

He said six Indian firms, including government owned ones, have expressed keenness to participate in the first gas-based fertilizer plant of ONGC.

“We would select the partner by early next month and then we prepare the concept paper for setting up of the urea fertilizer plant in northern Tripura,” Vasudeva stated.