MUMBAI (Reuters) – Indian energy company ONGC Videsh has secured a three-year extension from Vietnam to explore ‘Block 128’ in the South China Sea, it said in a post on social messaging platform X, formerly known as Twitter.
Conflicting territorial claims over South China Sea stretch back many decades but have intensified in recent years as China and its rivals have reinforced their positions on the rocks and reefs they hold.
“India’s strategic commitment stays strong as ONGC Videsh continues its exploration journey with its 8th extension till 15 June 2026,” the company said in its post.
ONGC Videsh is the overseas investment arm of India’s top oil explorer Oil and Natural Gas Corp.
India has sparred diplomatically with China in the past over its gas and oil exploration block off the coast of Vietnam. China claims virtually the entire mineral-rich South China Sea and has stepped up its military presence there.
Part of block 128 is in the U-shaped “nine-dash line” which marks the vast area that China claims in the sea, a route for more than $5 trillion in trade each year in which the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan also have claims.
(Reporting by Swati Bhat. Editing by Jane Merriman)