MOSCOW – Indonesia has approved a preliminary plan to develop three oil and gas units, including at the Tuna Block oil and gas field off its islands of Natuna Regency in the disputed South China Sea, media reported on Wednesday.
The country plans to offer contractors up to 10 oil and gas fields in 2023, including a unit in the South China Sea, as part of efforts to discover new fields and produce one million barrels of oil daily by 2030, according to Indonesian news portal Tempo.co.
Indonesia, as a sovereign state, has the right to conduct exploration in the area of Natuna Regency, since it is considered part of national territory, an expert told Tempo.
The Natuna regency is located in the northernmost part of the province of Riau Islands. Meanwhile, the Tuna Block oil and gas field is located 200 miles away from the disputed waters of the Natuna Sea, located in the southern part of the South China Sea. In 2021, Indonesia halted drilling in the area due to protests from China, but once again asserted its claims to the development of the field earlier in the day.
The resumption of gas exploration in the area can be considered as an escalation of tensions between Indonesia and China, according to the news portal.