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ExxonMobil hits gas in Phu Khanh basin offshore Vietnam

Acquired blocks from BP offshore Vietnam smile to ExxonMobil 

ExxonMobil acquired the blocks 117,118 and 119 offshore Da Nang on central Vietnam coast in the Phu Khanh Basin from BP in 2009.

At that time BP managed to extract gas from these fields but with high content of hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide.

Today ExxonMobil owns 100% of the working interests of these blocks.

In addition ExxonMobil took four licenses for exploration and production offshore the southeast Vietnam coast

In 2010 ExxonMobil chartered the Seadrill semi-submersible drilling rig West Acquarius to proceed to a first campaign of exploration in the block 118.

The first well, called CA Voi Xanh-1X, was dry but the second one, CA Voi Xanh-X2, discovered some “material”.

The third well, called 118 Ca Voi Xanh-3X, was performed on the second quarter 2012 and ended up with positive results since ExxonMobil encountered a higher proportion of hydrocarbons.

ExxonMobil does not gives any indications about the nature and size of the resources discovered in the block 118 until analyzing all data.

Anyway the first estimations in quality and quantity were “potentially significant” enough for ExxonMobil to justify to plug the well and send back the semi-submersible rig.

As a next step, ExxonMobil is planning more detailed seismic analysis. 

Rich South China Sea and EEZ contested resources

Even still not quantified, ExxonMobil’s hydrocarbon discovery in the Phu Khanh basin offshore the city of Da Nang is confirming the potential of resources of the South China Sea.

Unfortunately this success may rise tensions between the neighboring countries in beginning with China.

In 1982, a new Convention of the United Nations (UN)voted the extension of the “Exclusive Economic Zone” (EEZ) for the maritime frontiers to 200 nautical miles.

All the countries welcome this new regulation, but in the cases of congested waters with straits, gulfs or islands this extension of the maritime zones led to overlapping between two or more countries.

Unfortunately the UN Convention did not plan any mechanism to solve these special situations leaving to the locals the space to fix it case by case.

The South China Sea is one of the most complex examples of these overlapping extensions coming from Brunei, China, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

As unsolved so far, this legal uncertainty prevented massive exploration and production in the region, but with the price of the oil and the energy needs of all these countries surrounding the South China Sea are revealing latent tensions.

The Phu Khanh Basin is viewed by China as part of these contested waters, while Vietnam and ExxonMobil see the promising blocks 117, 118 and 119 offshore Da Nanag along the central coast of Vietnam as legally clear for further development.

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