Chinese-led international mission to explore South China Sea for oil | South China Morning Post

The first scientific ocean drilling expedition led and sponsored by China sails from Hong Kong tomorrow into the South China Sea – the subject of territorial disputes between Beijing and neighbouring countries.

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Thirty-one geologists will drill at three sites for sediment and rock cores during the 62-day international expedition aboard the American scientific drill ship Joides Resolution.

Scientists said the samples would reveal the tectonic evolution of the South China Sea, and pave the way to map oil and natural gas fields.

\”Oil and gas fields lie close to the coast, but the key is to open the treasure box buried beneath the basin,\” said Wang Pinxian, a marine geologist and member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

And Lin Jian, one of the chief scientists involved, said: \”The basalt retrieved from the basin is like a book that records the formation of the South China Sea.\”

Proposed by Chinese scientists in 2008, the trip marks the first sailing of the 2013-2023 International Ocean Discovery Programme (IODP), an international scientific research effort established by the United States in the 1960s.

Dozens of proposals for the programme were submitted by the 26 IODP member countries. The proposal to drill in the South China Sea did not win the most votes, but the generosity of the Chinese government – which is paying US$6 million, or 70 per cent, of the expedition\’s cost – was a deciding factor.

China also submitted a proposal last year to examine the northern reaches of the South China Sea, the area so far identified with the richest oil and gas resources, said Li Chunfeng, another scientist on the expedition.

The 31 scientists on the ship come from 10 countries and regions: 13 are from mainland China, nine from the US and one from Taiwan.

via Chinese-led international mission to explore South China Sea for oil | South China Morning Post.

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