Japan rejects Chinese gas field proposal

Jun 24, 2004 02:00 AM

Japan's Industry Minister Shoichi Nakagawa said Japan had no plan to accept a Chinese proposal to jointly develop a gas field in the East China Sea, which Tokyo argued may extend into its exclusive economic zone.
"At this point, our nation is not considering joint development" of the gas project, said Nakagawa, whose ministry is responsible for Japan's energy policies.

Nakagawa was responding to a proposal made by Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, who told visiting Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi that the two nations should consider joint development of the gas field, located between southern Japan and China.
"We cannot entertain the Chinese idea" unless Beijing offers information on the gas field, he said.
Japan has repeatedly told Beijing that its gas project could encroach on Japan's exclusive economic zone and has asked for data on the size of the gas field and the results of its test drilling, but China has not given any clear response to the requests.

The drilling, begun last year by a consortium comprising the China National Offshore Oil Corp., Shell and Unocal of the United States, is in disputed waters some 450 km west of Japan's southern Okinawa island. The site is 3 to 4 km west of a line proposed by Japan separating the two nations' exclusive economic zones.
Beijing has not recognised the demarcation, saying its economic rights extend almost as far as Okinawa at the extreme southwest of the Japanese archipelago. Japan argues the gas fields under development may extend beyond the line into Japan's economic zone.

Production is scheduled to begin next year at the site, which is capable of producing 2.5 bn cmpy of gas, Japanese media reports have said. Nakagawa said he planned to take a flight over the Chinese gas project.
"I want to see with my own eyes what kind of facilities and ships are in the area," Nakagawa said.

Source: Agence France Presse
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