HANOI. Apr 1, 2011. US oil giant ExxonMobil will begin exploratory drilling off central Vietnam in late April, official media reported Thursday, potentially angering China, which has objected to similar plans in the past.
The project will be located at “Block 119” off Danang city and the adjacent Quang Ngai province, the Vietnam News reported, but it was not immediately clear if the drilling was in a disputed area claimed by both countries.
The deal came at a meeting on Tuesday between Danang officials and ExxonMobil representatives, Vietnam News said.
China, which claims all of the South China Sea including the Paracel archipelago east of Danang, reportedly warned ExxonMobil to drop an exploration deal in the seas off Vietnam in 2008, though it is not clear if Block 119 was part of those objections.
Vietnam boasts rich offshore oil reserves in the South China Sea where state-owned PetroVietnam, together with Russian and other foreign partners, exploits several major fields, but these are further from the disputed islands.