Politics, Geopolitics & Conflict
Once again, it’s China stepping into the vacuum in Iraq, targeting the oil industry. This time, Iraq is set up for a multi-billion-dollar bailout from Beijing in a deal that would see the Iraqi government repay the debt in the form of long-term oil supplies. The deal still has to be approved by the Iraqi cabinet, along with the final choice of Chinese company, which appears to have ZhenHua as the frontrunner. At the same time, China’s CNOOC and CNPC oil giant are believed to be considering acquiring Exxon’s 32.7% stake in Iraq’s supergiant West Qurna oilfield, which China really already largely controls through a same-size stake held by CNPC’s listed PetroChina and through a series of other contractual arrangements for the field.
Iran has imposed sanctions on the US ambassador to Yemen in a tit-for-tat response to Washington’s move to blacklist Iran’s envoy to Yemen as the situation here heats up. The diplomatic spat comes as the Saudi-led coalition fighting against the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen say they intercepted and destroyed two explosive-laden boats launched by the Houthis south of the Red Sea.
With the Saudis unclear on what the relationship with the incoming US administration will be, Riyadh is hedging its bets with China more visibly, quietly considering oil-based borrowing with China, and now, hoping to sell natural gas to Beijing, as well as potentially expanding…