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IOCs face choppy South China Sea conditions

Beijing's determination to exert its influence in the South China Sea is causing problems for oil companies active in the region

An increasingly assertive foreign policy over maritime rights claims is bringing China into conflict with its neighbours. In March of this year, Spain's Repsol was forced to suspend drilling in the Red Emperor block, a $200m oil and gas development off Vietnam's southeast coast, after state-owned PetroVietnam—under Chinese pressure—requested a halt to activities. That prompted Repsol to lodge a compensation claim for the suspension of drilling on a field where it has been active since 2009, and which contains 45m barrels of crude oil and 172bn cubic feet of natural gas. China's resurgent maritime nationalism is focused on the so-called nine-dash line, the resource-rich U-shaped stretch of w

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