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Senior parliamentarians in the UK are sounding the alarm bells over Chinese extensive involvement in North Sea oil and gas, which they say poses a serious security threat to the country.
MP Duncan Smith, chair of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), told City A.M. that Chinese-backed investments in British energy resources pose a “very real risk to security”.
China’s state-run oil giant CNOOC holds over 43% interest in the UK’s North Sea Buzzard oilfield, and over 36% interest in its Golden Eagle oilfield, as well as a near-majority interest in an exploration block, according to SP Global.
This, Alicia Kearns, UK Foreign Affairs Select Committee chair, told City A.M. represents a “fundamentally inconsistent” approach to Chinese investments in the UK’s strategic industries. She warned China’s “growing dominance in many key energy sectors poses a very real risk to our security.”
She called on Downing Street to treat the UK oil and gas industry in the same manner that it has treated the nuclear industry, where the government bought out China’s 20% stake in Sizewell C.
On November 29, the UK’s conservative government led by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that China would be stripped of its 20% stake in Sizewell, and a joint venture would instead be formed with French EDF. The announcement followed Sunak’s statement that the “golden era” of UK-China ties was “over” as the Chinese posed a “systemic challenge” to the country’s strategic interests.
Speaking to City A.M., Smith called on Downing Street to “expunge Chinese involvement in key strategic industries”, accusing the government of failing to take Beijing’s involvement in the domestic energy sector seriously.
“We have been calling on the government to carry out a full inventory of Chinese involvement in our strategic industries. They have simply failed to do so,” Smith told City A.M.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com