Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Disputed Spratly Island

The Spratly Islands consist of 100 - 230 islets, coral reefs and sea mounts Despite the fact that the archipelago is spread over 250,000 sq km of sea space, the total land mass of the Spratly Islands is a mere 5 sq km. The land is not arable, does not support permanent crops, and has no meadows, pastures or forests. Furthermore, the Spratly Islands have not been occupied by humans until recently. Countries with territorial claims use military means --airstrips and armed forces -- to reinforce their claims.

The Spratly Islands are situated in the South China Sea -- one of the largest continental shelves in the world. Typically, continental shelves are abundant in resources such as oil, natural gas, minerals, and seafood. According to James Kiras, a contributing editor of the Peacekeeping & International Relations journal, one study conducted by China estimated oil reserves in the South China Sea to be larger than Kuwait's present reserves.

Oil and natural gas reserves in the Spratly region are estimated at 17.7 billion tons; Kuwait's reserves amount to 13 billion tons.The Spratly reserves place it as the fourth largest reserve bed worldwide.

Country’s claims the Spratly

Claims all the islands in the Spratly region.
1950’s it claims the Paracel Island which is north of Spratley.
1974 seized Paracel Island from Vietnam.
1988 China used military to overthrow the Vietnamese Military after removing China’s flag from the aforementioned island.

China's historical claim is dubious and neglects similar historical claims by Taiwan, Vietnam and Malaysia. Moreover, China's historical interpretation of its sovereignty rights ignores current international law.

Claims approximately 60 of islands in the Spratly region. Conducted a joint Oil exploration with Royal Dutch/Shell Group and Alcorn International near the Palawan Island will raise the Philippines annual oil production from the 3,000 b/d produced in 1991 from 7 wells in the South China Sea.

Claims part of islands in the Spratly region. Vietnam's only oil well in production as of 1991 is the White Tiger field, 400 km west of the Crestone block. In 1992, however, Vietnam hastened leasing to foreign exploration.

Claims all islands in the Spratly region. The Spratly Islands are strategically important to Taiwan for two reasons: (1) important shipping lanes pass through waters surrounding the Spratly Islands; and, (2) the South China Sea, in general, is fish abundant. Thus, Taiwan feels compelled to protect its interests.

Is the earliest oil operator in the sea and claims 3 islands and 4 rock groups in the Spratly region. As of 1992, Malaysia was running 90 oil- producing wells, with $210 million planned for further development between 1992 and 1995.

Claims the Louisa Reef in the Spratly region, located adjacent to its coastline. Brunei became an active player in the Spratly disputes only within recent years. Production of its 9 oil fields in the South China Sea hovers around 143,000 b/d.

Economic exploration endeavors appear to ignite the tenuous stability in the Spratly region. The conflict is further exacerbated by foreign firms willing to undertake riskier oil development projects in Asia. The foreign oil firms are looking to profit from the current energy boom in Asia as well as to find replacement reserves for those in the United States and the North Sea where production approaches their peak.

Aside from granting foreign firms exploration rights in disputed waters and conducting military exercises in the Spratly area, China has also committed itself to the build-up of its navy and air force. The Financial Times reported in August of 1996 that China planned to purchase advanced navy radar from the British. This radar would improve warning signals to China of 'impending' attacks as well as facilitate naval task group deployment in the South China Sea. The islands are particularly strategic to China.


Post a Comment