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    Fields of black gold

    The Japanese government plans to increase its monitoring of the disputed East China Sea oil and gas fields:

    The government will strengthen its surveillance apparatus in the maritime region around the East China Sea boundary (Japan-China) where the PRC is furthering its plan to develop gas fields. It will increase the frequency of flights by the Maritime SDF’s P3C patrol planes. The Maritime Security Agency and Ministry of Trade, Economy, and Industry are communicating closely with other relevant government bodies to bring the PRC’s movements to light down to the last detail. The aim is to preclude China’s establishing natural gas production incrementally.

    China has already completed development of three fields in the vicinity of the boundary: Tengaiten, Shungyo, and Dankyo. It has also constructed a maritime base for exploratory drilling near Heiko. The China National Off-shore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) will begin production of natural gas from the Shungyo field within the month.

    This debate has been brewing for a while. He doesn’t update anymore, but Meaty Fly’s blog still has a great post up here about the background to the Japan-PRC energy conflict. It’s also helpful to bear in mind (via Machiruda a few months ago) that scientists aren’t sure just how much gas the most haggled-over field holds.

    I think I need to create a category for this, because I’m having serious trouble locating things about it in my own archives.

    2 Responses to “Fields of black gold”

    1. Zak says:

      No one I’ve seen cover this issue has answered one basic question that seems to me to be of primary importance: even if 9/10 of the oil fields are on Japan’s side, isn’t it within China’s legal rights to put down a drill on its side and siphon off the whole thing? After all, they are doing everything from their own side. I would assume this is legal (in which case Japan has no leg to stand on), but why do none of the news outlets delve into this more important question?

      More importantly, why doesn’t Japan just start drilling on their own side? If the answer is “because they’re afraid of China,” then they should just sit down and shut up to begin with.

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      I think it’s supposed to work something like air space: if 30% of the volume of the deposit is below China’s territory, and the rest is below Japan’s, then Japan is supposed to be entitled to 70% of the natural gas. I don’t know that that’s how international legal precedent has decided things, but that seems to be the substance of Japan’s claim.

      As for Japan’s drilling, it keeps threatening to; a few months back, it started issuing permits, though I don’t know that any companies have done any actual exploration.

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