Russian oil giant Zarubezhneft now exploits the Tuna natural gas block in the North Natuna Sea, to strengthen Indonesia’s sovereignty in the South China Sea area.
The 6,900-tonne Haiyang Dizhi 10 and its Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) escort recently pulled out of the area on October 22, four days before the start of the three-day virtual Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) summit.
It has done that before, sailing to the Fiery Cross Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands for replenishment in late September before returning on October 4, 2021 to continue its research.
This time, ship-tracking data shows it heading back to its home port of Guangzhou, but the Chinese Coast Guard cutter 6305 remains in the vicinity of the drilling rig where appraisal operations will continue for at least another month.
There are diplomatic exchanges between the PRC and Indonesia on various issues of mutual concern, including maritime issues. Chinese ships have also carried out similar mapping operations in Vietnamese and Malaysian waters.
Indonesian officials have often said that because the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) lays out the coordinates defining the country’s EEZ, there is nothing to argue about with China.
The Indonesian government and Harbor Energy signed a memorandum of understanding last year that will allow the company to pipe its gas 90 kilometers across the border into Vietnam’s offshore pipeline network.
Zarubezhneft recently bought out compatriot Rosneft’s shareholdings in two offshore projects, along with the existing 400-kilometer Nam Con Son pipeline stretching southeast from the coastal town of Vung Tau.
Singapore, which relies on gas from Indonesia and Malaysia and also seaborne LNG cargoes for 95% of its electricity, has already extended its first LNG receiving terminal and is planning a second to come on stream in 2025-2030.
Ambitious solar energy projects are also in the works.
On the other hand Chinese companies are playing a leading role in Indonesia’s entry into the global supply chain, with its flourishing nickel industry acting as the foundation of a highly-promising lithium battery and electric vehicle industry.
Asia Times / ABC Flash Point News 2021.