A Vietnamese naval soldier stands guard at Thuyen Chai island in the Spratly archipelago. Photo: Reuters/Quang Le

Spanish energy firm Repsol has suspended oil drilling off the coast of Vietnam in waters claimed by China, after Hanoi came under pressure from Beijing to stop, Reuters reported this week.

“We are working with the PetroVietnam and with the Vietnamese authorities and the only comment is that right now, operations have been suspended,” Repsol’s chief financial officer, Miguel Martinez, was quoted as saying. The company has spent US$27 million on the project so far.

Foreign Policy magazine reported earlier this week that China had threatened military action should Vietnam refuse to halt the operations.