China wants oil company with U.S. assets

The Chinese energy giant CNOOC and Anglo-Dutch firm Shell petrochemical plant in Daya Bay, in southern China.

Stacey Vanek Smith: Manufacturing in China grew at its fastest pace in five months, thanks to an uptick in export orders. Meanwhile, the country's government-controlled oil company, CNOOC, is snapping up Nexen of Canada for $15 billion. Nexen is big in the oil sands of Alberta and the Gulf of Mexico.

Mitchell Hartman has that story.


Mitchell Hartman: Seven years ago, CNOOC tried to buy American oil company Unocal. Opposition in Congress to Chinese ownership of a major strategic asset sank that deal.

But don’t expect any roadblocks from the U.S. government this time, says trade expert Ben Powell. He was counsel to the National Intelligence director in the George W. Bush administration.

Ben Powell: Nexen’s assets in the United States are far more limited than Unocal’s, mostly some leaseholds in the Gulf of Mexico.

Nexen does own big oil-and-gas fields in Western Canada. Analyst Trevor Houser at the Rhodium Group says China isn’t out to control energy supplies to the U.S. It’s after something else: know-how.

Trevor Houser: Nexen employs pretty advanced oil-and-gas producing technologies -- from hydrofracking for shale, to deep-water offshore, to production of oil sands.

As oil that’s easy-to-find runs out around the world, China can use these new technologies to become a bigger player in the energy market.

I’m Mitchell Hartman for Marketplace.

About the author

Mitchell Hartman is the senior reporter for Marketplace’s Entrepreneurship Desk and also covers employment.

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