Contest Over South China Sea Spurred in Part by Resources


With tensions mounting over maritime disputes in the South China Sea, the cause of the problem, at least in part, is believed to lie at the bottom of the water. But it is still unclear exactly how much oil and natural gas lurk beneath the surface.

Along with fishing and lucrative shipping routes, oil and gas reserves are often cited as a major reason for the disagreements over which country owns which patch of water, including China, which claims nearly all of the South China Sea.

But how much oil and gas really exist is still a question mark, according to Carl Thayer, a Professor Emeritas at Australia’s National Defense Academy.

“No one has done the really hard work scientifically. These are estimates, because there has been an interruption to oil exploration efforts in the past, the cable cutting incidents in the past, ships have been forced out of water by the Philippines that have been contested by China,” he said.

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