ONGC Videsh Extends South China Sea Oil Block Exploration

01 Aug 2023

ONGC Videsh (OVL), India's leading overseas firm, continues its commitment to South China Sea exploration, gaining a significant three-year extension for oil and gas activities in a Vietnamese block. This marks the eighth extension for OVL, reinforcing India's strategic resolve within the contested maritime region.

OVL, a subsidiary of the state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), has been unswerving in its exploration efforts in the South China Sea. The previous extension, slated until June 15, 2023, prompted discussions with Vietnamese authorities for another three-year extension, which has now been realised.

With the fresh extension, OVL solidifies its position in the region's Block 128, affirming its "exploration journey" in the challenging maritime space. While commercial oil and gas reserves have eluded the company over the past 17 years, the commitment to the area is motivated by India's overarching strategic interests.

This extension comes amid the backdrop of geopolitical dynamics. Vietnam, a stakeholder in the region, sees OVL's presence as a counterbalance to China's interventions in the disputed waters. OVL had entered into a production sharing contract (PSC) with PetroVietnam in 2006, for exploratory activities in Block-128, spanning over 7,058 square kilometres in the Offshore PhuKhanh Basin.

While commercial discoveries have been elusive, OVL has fulfilled various commitments under the exploration phase, including seismic data acquisition and drilling endeavours. Each extension underscores India's unwavering dedication to regional stability and influence in the face of China's territorial claims.

ONGC's subsidiary, OVL, remains steadfast, anchoring India's interests in the South China Sea even as the geopolitical tides ebb and flow.

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