On the Japanese side, Nippon Oil Corp. (5001.T) and Teikoku Oil, part of INPEX Holdings (1605.T), once had sights on developing Shirakaba, according to news reports from 2008, before Tokyo accused Beijing of breaking the resource-sharing accord. Teikoku Oil had also received a historic go-ahead from the Japanese government in 2005 to explore 400 square kilometers of the contested waters. But Japan's major oil firms are busier now in other parts of the world, and the East China Sea has produced just 2% to 3% of the world's offshore oil.

At the time of publication the author had no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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