Japan on Tuesday accused China of beginning to produce oil or gas from a field in disputed waters in the East China Sea, saying it was weighing up what counter-measures to take. Shoichi Nakagawa, the trade minister who has turned Chinese gas production into a territorial issue, said on Tuesday that a flare had been spotted at a drilling facility in waters close to the median line between both countries.
According to CNOOC’s estimates, Tianwaitian has 100,000 barrels of oil
reserves and 31.1bn cu ft of gas. Neighbouring Chunxiao, with 3.8m barrels
of oil and 166.9bn cu ft of gas, is also operated by CNOOC. It is expected
to begin pumping gas to China’s prosperous greater Shanghai area as early as
Qin Guan, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, said in Beijing on Tuesday
that China’s exploration was “being conducted in uncontested waters”.
“We hope that the issue between China and Japan in the East China Sea can be
handled by dialogue and negotiation,” he added.
No conclusive technical data exist for the Tianwaitian field, but Tokyo
suspects that it may also stretch across the median line.
“Even though we have not confirmed that the underground structure of the
field extends into waters claimed by Japan, Tokyo sees the resource
development as a problem,” Mr Nakagawa said.