Vietnam keen on Indian participation in oil and gas exploration

RSTV Bureau

On the eve of its Prime Minister’s visit, Vietnam favoured greater participation by Indian companies in oil and gas exploration projects in South China Sea, a huge source of hydrocarbons, and promised to extend full security to them.

Newly appointed Vietnamese Ambassador Ton Sinh Thanh rejected China’s objection to Indian oil exploration projects in South China Sea, asserting that that his country has the “right” to protect its interests.

“We hope that more oil and gas ventures of India can be done in Vietnam and we will create favourable condition for them,” Ton told.

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung will arrive New Delhi on Monday on a two-day visit during which he will hold talks with top Indian leadership on a range of issues including ways to enhance cooperation in security, defence and energy sector.

The two countries had established strategic ties in 2007.

The Ambassador said all oil exploration projects by India in South China Sea have been within the territorial waters of Vietnam and it will provide “full security” to Indian companies involved in them.

In November last year, Vietnam had offered India five oil blocks and ONGC Videsh Limited was looking at them in terms of their feasibility.

Recently, Vietnam had renewed India’s lease of two oil blocks in South China Sea for another year.

China and Vietnam have an acrimonious relationship due to their standoff over South China Sea, a major source of hydrocarbons.

China has been objecting to India’s oil exploration projects in the disputed waters.

Both India and Vietnam have been looking at enhancing cooperation in the the energy sector.

India has been supporting freedom of navigation and access to resources in South China Sea in accordance with principles of international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The Ambassador said the strategic partnership between India and Vietnam was now “better then ever” but noted that there was scope to further enhance cooperation.

He said Vietnam will ensure “favourable conditions” to Indian investors.

The trade volume between India and Vietnam was recorded at over USD seven billion during 2013-14 and plans are afoot to take it to USD 15 billion by 2020.

Oil and gas cooperation and extension of a USD 100 million credit by India for defence purchases were among seven pacts inked between India and Vietnam during Mukherjee’s visit to the country last month.