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#SouthChinaSea: Vietnam ends drilling in gas field over China threats

24 Jul 2017 | By Abheet Sethi

Strong threats from China have led Vietnam to reportedly end a gas-drilling expedition in a disputed area of the South China Sea.

Spanish company Repsol, which was awarded a lease for drilling, was ordered by Vietnamese authorities to leave the area.

Last week, authorities reportedly told Repsol that China had threatened to attack Vietnamese bases in the Spratly islands if the drilling didn't stop.

In context: Vietnam vs China in South China Sea dispute

The DisputeWhat is the South China Sea dispute about?

The South China dispute is over territory and sovereignty over ocean areas, particularly along the Paracel and the Spratly island chains.

These island chains are claimed by a number of countries in the region including China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei.

The islands lie among the world's busiest shipping lanes and have vast mineral resources around them, making them highly strategic assets.

06 Jul 2017Vietnam renews India oil deal amid tensed China relations

On July 6, Vietnam extended an Indian oil concession in the South China Sea amid heightened regional tensions with China.

Strategic and economic relations between India and Vietnam have improved in the backdrop of their common insecurity against China.

Vietnam has invited India to drill in the South China Sea as a counter-weight to China, which claims the region as its territory.

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24 Jul 2017#SouthChinaSea: Vietnam ends drilling in gas field over China threats

DetailsVietnam and China have rival claims over gas field

The drilling expedition started last month in an area around 400km off Vietnam's south-east coast.

The gas field is called Block 136-03 by Vietnam, which leased it to Talisman-Vietnam, a Repsol.

It is called Wanan Bei-21 by China and has been leased the seabed to a different company.

Repsol has spent around $300 million so far on developing the field.

ExplainedVietnam-China have tried avoiding confrontation in disputed region

Given how much Repsol has spent on the gas-field, observers were left surprised by Vietnam's decision to back down so quickly.

Coastguard vessels and other ships belonging to China and Vietnam had a confrontation in a different section of the South China Sea near the Paracel Islands in 2014.

Both countries have since then tried avoiding confrontation.