Jun 24, 2020 / 12:16

US supports energy companies operating in South China Sea: Daniel Kritenbrink

The Hanoitimes - US-based ExxonMobil is operating Vietnam's largest energy project off the country's coast in the South China Sea.

US Ambassador to Vietnam Daniel Kritenbrink has said the US will support energy companies engaging in the exploitation of natural resources in the South China Sea.

US Ambassador to Vietnam Daniel Kritenbrink. Photo: US Embassy 

The South China Sea is the most important security issue for Vietnam, and the future peace and stability here is vital to America as well, the ambassador said at an event in Ho Chi Minh City on June 22 held by the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

The two countries’ views and interests on this issue are almost aligned, VnExpress reported.

Both sides believe in peacefully resolving disputes in accordance with international law, and that all countries, big and small, should abide by the rules, basing their claims on international law. Neither country believes that large countries should bully small ones, because all countries have the right to develop their resources.

China has seemed to take advantage of the Covid-19 situation to more aggressively advance its claims in the sea, and it’s not just the issue related to territory but energy resources and fishing stocks, and we think it is inappropriate that China continues to engage in very aggressive behaviors to intimidate the region to prevent countries like Vietnam developing their rightful claims to the resources in the sea, the ambassador said.

For that reason, he promised the US “will remain committed to the principles we believe in, and we will continue to engage in our policies with partners like Vietnam. We will continue to invest in building the capacity that involve partners in the region like Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.”

Earlier this month, Irtiza Sayyed, president of ExxonMobil LNG Market Development Inc, said in a phone call to Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc that his company wants to expand investment in Vietnam, especially in energy sector.

Currently, ExxonMobil is operating Ca Voi Xanh (Blue Whale), Vietnam’s largest offshore gas project under the jurisdiction of the central city of Danang discovered in 2011 with reserves of 150 billion cubic meters (cu.m).

“If the [Blue Whale] project goes forward, it is estimated to generate US$20 billion in revenue to the Vietnamese government, thousands of local jobs and improved energy security from domestic gas development,” foreign media cited President Liam Mallon of ExxonMobil Development Company.

The US has funded US$450 million to build Vietnam’s maritime capacity since 2012 and Kritenbrink said the second US-ASEAN maritime drill is on the agenda after the first one in September last year.

Washington will also build its own capacities, including military capacities and continue carrying out activities related to navigation operations to ensure all countries follow international laws, the ambassador said.