Key point: How will Beijing deal with Russian resource exploration with the Philippines and gas projects with Vietnam, all within its self-proclaimed waters?
In October, during his second official visit to Russia, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte invited Moscow-based energy company Rosneft to conduct oil and gas exploration in waters the Philippines claims in the South China Sea. The offer was reciprocated by the Russian ambassador to the Philippines, Igor Khovaev, who invited Philippine companies to also ‘explore oil and gas in Russia together with Russian companies’. A team from Rosneft went to Manila later that month to discuss the possibility of joint offshore oil exploration with the Philippines Department of Energy.
Rosneft, which is half-owned by the Russian government, is no stranger to the South China Sea. It became an operator of a joint project for gas production and exploration in Block 06.1 in the Nam Con Son Basin, off the coast of Vietnam, back in 2013. Since 2018, it has also been working with Vietnam to expand gas development projects in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone, including drilling two new wells in the area.