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Vietnam offers India seven oil blocks for offshore exploration



Updated On - Sunday, 22 December 2013

20, November 2013

NEW DELHI: India has been offered seven oil blocks for offshore exploration on the South China Sea by Vietnam, a move that could pit New Delhi's commercial interests against China's territorial interests in the sea.

On Wednesday — the last day of his state visit to India — Nguyen Phu Trong, general secretary of the VietnameseCommunist Party, signed eight agreements with India covering education, defence and energy. In a significant agreement between Petrovietnam and OVL, the two countries are set for deeper cooperation in development of petroleum. OVL is given new blocks for oil and gas, while PetroVietnam has been invited to participate in open blocks in India and third countries.

The MoU will last for three years, but the terms of the agreement are not yet available. But sources said Vietnam is clearly looking at production-sharing agreements with OVL in these new blocks. When India wanted to abandon oil block 128 off Vietnam in the South China Sea last year because there's really no oil there, Hanoi asked New Delhi to stay back until 2014. This was at a time when China was flexing its muscles over Beijing's claims in the South China Sea.

Vietnam has emerged as a lynchpin for India's own outreach into Asia-Pacific, with the two countries ramping up the scale and nature of their relationship. OVL already has commercial production on its Block 6.1 starting 2003.

But Blocks 127 and 128, both of which fall within China's claim line, has been found to be technologically non-feasible for extracting resources. India gave up Block 127 in 2011, but Vietnam asked India to stay on until 2014. OVL will then have to give it up and probably attract a small penalty.

PM Manmohan Singh said India would provide a $100 million line of credit to Vietnam for defence purchases. Vietnam has expressed interest in buying defence hardware from India, particularly the Brahmos missiles. "India will continue to assist Vietnam in modernization and training of its defence and security forces, including through a $100 million line of credit for defence purchases."

He said the two countries "reaffirmed the importance of defence and security cooperation in our overall strategic partnership and agreed to strengthen it further."

India will also help setting up the Indira Gandhi High-tech Cyber Forensic Laboratory in Hanoi and a Vietnam-India English and IT Training Centre at the National Defence Academy of Vietnam.

Published by: The Times of India

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