Normally, I wouldn’t have blogged on this issue again until the authorities announced the agreement, but the Yomiuri article includes a map of the four gas fields in question that I want to take note of before I forget. The map gives the Chinese oil equivalent of the natural gas reserve estimates for three of the fields:
Shirakaba/Chungxiao: 63.8 million bbl
Kashi/Tianwaitian : 12.6 million bbl
Kusunoki/Danqiao : 15.2 million bbl
Now look at this:
Shirakaba/Chungxiao: 174.8 thousand bbl/d
Kashi/Tianwaitian : 34.5 thousand bbl/d
Kusunoki/Danqiao : 41.6 thousand bbl/d
That’s how much you can extract every day if you use up the entire reserve in a single year. Take a more reasonable, say 20-year life span for the gas fields, and you get an idea of how trivial the gas fields really are. Even if the Japanese side of the median line ends up doubling the reserves, the numbers still give you a feel for how marginal these fields are. I now have a little sympathy for conspiracy theorists who believe that the Chinese authorities have been pushing their exploitation just to reinforce their claims to the EEZ in the area.
ADD: Remember, it’s the legal framework for the joint development activities including jurisdiction that matters, not the economics of the deal.