China’s oil rig Haiyang Shiyou – 981, illegally placed in Vietnam’s continental shelf and exclusive economic zone, was moving north-northwest toward China’s Hainan island at 21:03 p.m. on July 15, according to the High Command of the Vietnam Coast Guard.
The rig and the fleet of nearly 60 escort ships were moving at a speed of 4-4.2 nautical miles per hour.
At 6:20 a.m. on July 16, it was 41 nautical miles from its previous position, about 163 nautical miles southwest of Hainan island.
The Vietnamese law enforcement forces are closely watching their movement.
On July 15, the China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) announced that it had completed its drilling and exploration off Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago in the East Sea, and is relocating its rig in Hainan Islands.
The company started drilling two wells in early May and completed the work on May 27 and on July 15 respectively, China’s state-run news agency Xinhua quoted the company’s statement as saying.
The rig illegally operated in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone despite of strong protest from Vietnam and the international community.
In early May, China illegally dispatched the rig as well as a large fleet of armed vessels, military ships and aircraft to Vietnam’s waters and positioned the rig 80 miles deep into Vietnam’s continental shelf and exclusive economic zone.
It later expanded the scale of operation and moved the rig to 15 degrees 33 minutes 36 seconds north latitude and 111 degrees 34 minutes 11 seconds east longitude, 60 nautical miles deep inside Vietnam’s waters.