20090629 nigeria oil 18
A worker inspects facilities on an upstream oil drilling platform in Amenem, near the Port Harcourt in the Niger Delta. - 


Steve Chiotakis: And in no place on Earth is demand increasing as much as China. And now the Wall Street Journal reports a Chinese-run oil company may go toe-to-toe against Exxon Mobil. Both are making bids for an oil field in West Africa. From Shanghai, here's Marketplace's Scott Tong.

Scott Tong: The target oil field in West Africa is one of the largest discoveries in recent years. Exxon Mobil has bid $4 billion for a 23.5 percent stake. Now China wants to trump that bid -- and is reportedly partnering with the government of Ghana to make an offer.

David Zweig teaches at the Hong Kong University for Science and Technology.

David Zweig: And China's saying we'll help you do it. We got the cash, we'll bid with your national oil company against Exxon. It's pretty smart politics. I do think this is really going to get the Americans angry. And really raise their antenna.

Zweig says there hadn't been much direct competition between the U.S. and China for hydrocarbons -- until now.

China's oil consumption has doubled the past decade; it's currently the #1 new car market in the world.

Exxon Mobil, meanwhile, is trying to make its first major purchase in a decade; its output fell last year, and says it may not hit its goals this year, either.

In Shanghai, I'm Scott Tong for Marketplace.