General Director of the National Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam), Do Van Hau, on June 27 held a press briefing regarding the Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation’s (CNOOC) announcement to invite international bids for nine oil and gas lots within Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.

Hau related that from June 23, 2012, the CNOOC’s website, in both English and Chinese languages, invited international bids for exploration and production in 2012 at 09 oil and gas lots, with the total area of 160,239.38 sq km.

A check on the coordinate of the lots released by China revealed that the lots are situated deep within the area of the Vietnamese continental shelf, and overlap lots 128 to 132 and 145 to 156 where PetroVietnam has been operating for a considerable time.

Hau affirmed that CNOOC invited international bids for nine lots located within Vietnam’s 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone and continental shelf which are not disputed areas.

He further said that this is an illegal and invalid activity which violates the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and does not conform with international oil practices.

The activity also seriously violates Vietnam’s sovereign right, jurisdictional right and national interest, as well as further complicates the situation and causes tension in the East Sea.

PetroVietnam strongly condemns and requests that China cease the above mentioned wrongful invitation for bids, strictly conform to agreements on basic principles guiding the settlement of sea issues between Vietnam and China and respect international law, especially the 1982 UNCLOS, and the spirit of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), Hau stressed.

He added, PetroVietnam requests international oil and gas companies not to join the bidding of nine lots invited by CNOOC which are situated within Vietnam ’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.

The General Director reiterated that PetroVietnam always attaches importance to friendly cooperation with China as well as with CNOOC.

In fact, PetroVietnam and CNOOC have signed and implemented several oil and gas deals. CNOOC and other Chinese companies are welcomed to cooperate with PetroVietnam within the area of Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, like other foreign partners, said the General Director.

Answering reporters’ question on whether PetroVietnam has worked with the CNOOC on the matter, General Director Hau said that the CNOOC’s action not only seriously violates Vietnam’s sovereign right and jurisdictional right at the country’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, but also infringes upon the agreement between PetroVietnam and the CNOOC.

PetroVietnam will send its official response on the matter to the CNOOC leaders soon, he added.

Regarding a question on cooperation between PetroVietnam and its partner at the nine lots and conditions that foreign partners need to abide by, Hau said that the group has cooperated with India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) at Lot 128, the Russian group Gazprom at Lots from 129 to 133, the US group Exxon Mobil at Lots from 156 to 158 and the PetroVietnam Exploration Production Corporation (PVEP) at Lots 148 and 149, Hau said.

In addition to conditions stipulated in the Vietnamese Government’s Foreign Investment Law, the foreign companies shall ensure experience and resources for their oil and gas operations. In particularly they must respect Vietnam’s sovereignty and the sovereign right at the country’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf in line with Vietnamese law and the 1982 UNCLOS.

In replying to a question on the effect of the action on oil and gas operations by PetroVietnam and its partners, Hau stressed, the area of the nine lots, that the CNOOC calls for tender belongs entirely to Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.

PetroVietnam and its partners will continue implementing their oil and gas operations in line with signed contracts and Vietnam’s laws and coordinate with relevant Vietnamese agencies to ensure that these oil and gas operations are implemented smoothly.

Also the same day, the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry’s representative met with representatives from the Chinese Embassy in Hanoi to hand over a diplomatic note to protest the CNOOC opening international bid at the nine lots that are within Vietnam’s 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.-VNA

Map shows nine oil and gas lots within Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf