BEIJING, July 16 (Reuters) - A Chinese oil rig has finished exploration near the Paracel islands in the South China Sea and will be relocated, the official Xinhua news agency said, more than two months after its deployment to waters also claimed by Vietnam hurt ties with Hanoi.
Xinhua said the rig was scheduled to be moved to what it called the Hainan Lingshui project operations. It gave no date or location for its next job, although Lingshui is a region on the coast of China’s southern Hainan island.
The brief report quoted the rig’s operator, China Oilfield Services Limited (COSL), as saying drilling had been successfully completed on Tuesday. China had previously said the rig was scheduled to explore the waters around the Paracels until mid-August.
Hanoi has said the $1 billion deepwater rig is in its 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone and on its continental shelf. China has said the rig was operating completely within its waters. (Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Dean Yates)