Over the past week or so, China has eased quarantine measures in Wuhan – the city in which the global coronavirus pandemic began – with the entire lockdown scheduled to end on 8 April. With China’s President Xi Jinpiang having visited the city just a few days ago, the industrial economy across China as a whole is back working and operating at levels even above the pre-coronavirus rates, although the service sector remains more cautious. For the oil industry, this means that China is back and busy taking up where it left off in terms of exploring and developing new field opportunities. This is at a time when the U.S. is just beginning to see the full onset of coronavirus mayhem. There has been no clearer sign of this move by China than last week’s awarding of a US$203.5 million engineering contract for Iraq’s supergiant oil field, Majnoon, to the little known China Petroleum Engineering & Construction Corp (CPECC). With the U.S.’ focus increasingly on fire-fighting the coronavirus outbreak at home, Beijing has good reason to believe that it has largely a clear run at target country Iraq, provided that it does not stick it too much in the U.S.’ craw. This specifically means continuing to develop oil and gas field opportunities in geopolitically ultra-sensitive areas, such as Iraq, on the basis of rolling contracts for specific work undertaken by companies that are not top of the U.S.’ radar, like CPECC. This method is also being used by Russia, and the focus of it right now is Iraq and Iran, two countries that are right in the centre of the Middle East and vital to both China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ multi-generational dominance strategy and to Russia’s ongoing attempt to sequestrate the entire Middle East.
Not only is CPECC a subsidiary of Chinese oil behemoth, China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), but also it was the very same company that was recently awarded exactly the same type of contract (US$121 million for ‘engineering work’ that time) for Iraq’s supergiant West Qurna-1 oilfield, also located very close to Iraq’s principal oil hub of Basra. “At some point the U.S. is going to wake up and find out that it has lost the entire Middle East, including Iraq and Saudi,” concluded the Iran source.
Last updated on Sun., April 5, 2020.