South China Sea Current Affairs

India-Singapore ink Bilateral Agreement for Navy Cooperation

India and Singapore have signed Bilateral Agreement for Navy Cooperation that will allow Indian Navy ships logistical support, including refuelling at Singapore’s Changi Naval Base located near disputed South China Sea (SCS).

The agreement was announced during second Defence Ministers’ Dialogue between India and Singapore held in New Delhi.

Key Facts

The Bilateral Agreement for Navy Cooperation will allow Indian Navy ships sailing through disputed SCS or in eastern waters of Andaman Sea to refuel, restock and if needed rearm at Singapore’s Changi naval base.  It will allow Indian Navy to directly engage with Singaporean authorities to use their facilities unlike present structure that take weeks if political clearances need to be obtained in Singapore.

Significance

The naval logistics agreement is first for India with country located east of strategically important Strait of Malacca. Singapore is strategically situated on major international sea routes – Straits of Singapore and Malacca – and connects Pacific and Indian Oceans making it economically important. It acts as centre for international communications, transportations and trade to southeast Asia. The nearest Indian base is in Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

The agreement looks at increased cooperation in maritime security, joint exercises, temporary deployment between India and Singapore. The Changi base will enhance Indian Navy’s operational reach. It will also play prominent role in protection of naval vessels, supplies, repair facilities, administration and logistics support. It will give boost to India’s Act East Policy and strengthen India’s role for safety, stability, regional peace and navigational freedom.

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China successfully produces gas from flammable ice under South China Sea

China has successfully produced natural gas from methane hydrate, also known as “flammable ice”, in an experimental project in the South China Sea (SCS).

As part of the experiment, a drilling platform had produced a total of 309,000 cubic metres of natural gas from gas hydrate in 60 days.

Methane hydrate has been identified as a potential new gas source for China, with the South China Sea thought to contain some of the world’s most promising flammable ice deposits. India, Canada and US are also believed to be looking at hydrates as an alternative energy source.

Flammable ice

Flammable ice (also known as methane hydrate or methane clathrates) consists of methane trapped within water crystals. It is the world’s largest natural gas resource is trapped beneath permafrost and ocean sediment where low temperature and moderate pressure combine to trap methane in this specific way.

The methane hydrate is highly flammable and energy-intensive fuel as one cubic metre of the compound can releases about 160 cubic metres of gas. It can break down into water and methane after temperature is raised or pressure is lowered.

It is likely to be the world’s last great source of carbon-based fuel and has potential to be a revolutionary energy source that could cater future energy needs. Its vast deposits exist underneath all oceans around the globe, especially on the edge of continental shelves.

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