China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) has announced its first deepwater gas field discovery in the South China Sea, Xinhua reports. The discovery was made by CNOOC drilling rig HYSY 981, the same drilling platform that sparked a diplomatic spat when it was parked within waters claimed by Vietnam as part of its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
According to Xinhua, the newly discovered gas field, dubbed Lingshui 17-2, is located 150 kilometers south of Hainan — in other words, not in a disputed area of the South China Sea. The gas field, located at an average depth of 1,500 meters, is classified as an “ultra-deepwater gas field.” Successful exploitation of this gas field would provide a sizable counterpoint to those who doubt CNOOC’s ability to extricate natural gas from deepwater sites. CNOOC representatives told CCTV that China “is now technologically capable of drilling in any place in the entire South China Sea.”