More Fuel to South China Sea Disputes
From Asia Times
Many analysts today have tried to explain Beijing’s insistence on its “immutable sovereignty” over the South China Sea in reference to the “vast deposits of oil and gas” under these contested waters. So, are these pools of oil truly vast? If they aren’t so vast, does Beijing know? And vast or half-vast, does China have to control the oil of the South China Sea in order to benefit from the potential bounty?
In January, the US Energy Information Administration updated its estimate of the oil and natural gas resources of the South China Sea (SCS). Once again the EIA reported that a lot of hydrocarbons seem to lie beneath the SCS, with a mean estimate of approximately 11 billion barrels of oil in proved and probablereserves, and 190 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of gas. Expressed in comparable energy terms, there’s about three times as much gas, or about 33 billion barrels of oil equivalent. “Proved and probable reserves” are oil and gas that can be produced with existing technology if the price is high enough and the political environment is favorable.
According to BP’s annual statistical review, China consumed 3.5 billion barrels of oil and the gas equivalent of another 800 million barrels of oil in 2011. By 2030, adds BP, China’s demand for oil and other liquid fuels will grow by 70% to six billion barrels annually and will be slightly greater than the US.
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