Indonesia stakes South China Sea claim

JAKARTA, July 21, 2017 – Indonesia’s Ministry of Energy & Mineral Resources signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the army on Thursday to guard upstream facilities using military personnel.


The move follows the Southeast Asian country’s renaming of a portion of South China Sea earlier in the week. The newly christened North Natuna Sea lies in the north of what Indonesia claims as its exclusive economic zone.

Indonesia claims that the recent moves are meant to protect offshore drilling ventures from foreign vessels, largely understood as a veiled reference to China, a strategic competitor in the contested South China Sea. The Philippines and Vietnam are also engaged in rivalry including military posturing and the construction of artificial islands in the area.

Indonesia’s increased offshore security efforts come days after both ExxonMobil and PTTEP walked away from Pertamina’s East Natuna project, whose reserves of some 6.29 tcm (222 tcf) of natural gas are considered the largest unexploited asset in Southeast Asia. The companies cited the high cost of developing the field, linked to the 70% carbon dioxide content of the resources and the remote location of the asset, as a fatal flaw in the project.

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