This book volume, to which thirteen researchers have contributed, is the result of the second phase of the joint research program between the Institute of West Asia & African Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the Energy Program Asia of the International Institute for Asian Studies. As directors of this program and editors of and contributors to the volume presented here, we are grateful to the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), Amsterdam, as well as Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), Beijing, for providing us with the opportunity to publish the second part of the results of our joint research program. China’s transition to an urban-industrial society relies, first of all, on its abundant domestic coal supplies, and secondly, on an increase in oil—and gas imports. For this reason, China’s strategic investments in the oil and gas industries of resource-rich, energy-exporting countries have vastly increased.
Because of high levels of import-dependency, the domestic power-wealth
structures of both China (and the EU) rely on interrupted supplies from beyond state borders. To ensure supply security, import-dependent major actors have two options. One is to reduce dependency by, for instance, increasing energy efficiency. Another option is to increase the security of energy imports.
This requires improving supply security from resource-rich oil—and gas exporting countries—and regions.
This part of the research provides an analysis of the strategies and practices of China’s three oil majors—the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (Sinopec), and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC). Their complex relations with
host-governments and with local communities and other stakeholders lie at the center of the research program. The resource-rich countries under study are Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya Venezuela, Ecuador, Brazil, Saudi-Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and, Russia. After analyzing the involvement of Chinese National Oil Companies (NOCs) in these countries, we found that package deals dominate China’s access strategy. As part of this strategy, the oil trade and investments in both the upstream and downstream parts of the
industry are combined with political and financial support for wider strategic economic cooperation. We consider the growing international and transnational activities of China’s State-Owned Enterprises (SOE) to be part and parcel of economic globalization processes (Marcel 2006; Xu, 2007; Harris 2009;
Jiang, J. & Sinton 2011).
In establishing energy-supply security, state-led economic activities have
the potential advantage of including long–term policy objectives, such as energy security, in the energy supply process. However, given man’s limited ability to control the future, the question remains of to what extent China (and the EU) will be able to create trade-offs between these contradictory objectives and the demands of domestic and international actors. Fossil fuel imports also supply the largest share of the European Union’s energy demand. Developing clean sources of energy and securing energy supplies are therefore important long-term development goals of the EU.
Currently, member-states are still in control of the external policy of energy security, and decide on their domestic energy-mix themselves. However, the EU-regulations on domestic energy policies do constrain the external energy security policies viable in member states. Furthermore, energy-security policies touch upon a wider set of objectives, such as climate change, energy efficiency, and the development of renewable energy. As far as the EU and China
are concerned, their growing share in renewable energy has not been accompanied by a reduction in the fossil fuels imported. On the contrary, import reliance has increased throughout the last two decades. This has partly been induced by the relatively low prices of some imported fuels, in particular coal and oil. Import levels are expected to increase even higher in the upcoming decades. According to expert opinion, the development of shale gas and tight oil will not substantially reduce the EU’s import dependency. This research explores the challenges to the Union’s energy security in general, and to fossil fuel supplies in particular. The focus in this part is on non-Russian suppliers, namely the Middle East, North Africa, and the Caspian Region. In three parts, the volume describes and analyzes the following, interconnected themes:
(a) China’s energy policies, with a focus on the cross-border activities of
China’s NOCs in selected resource-rich countries, namely: Kazakhstan,
Turkmenistan, Russia, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Uruguay, Venezuela,
(b) China’s dilemma in expanding fossil fuel production and consumption
(mainly coal and oil) to meet the energy needs of its massive urbanizing,
developing society, and at the same time reducing the level of pollution
in major cities and reaching agreement with its partners on international
efforts to limit climate change accompanied by possibilities for the development and implementation of alternative and renewable energy
(c) The energy security challenges of the European Union, and its energy security policies in countries and regions of supply, in particular the
Middle East, North Africa, and the Caspian Region. The member states
of the European Union (EU) simultaneously face the need to fuel their
high-income economies—each with a high level of per capita energy
consumption—and to secure energy supply security and sustainability.
As this volume will clarify, both China and EU, the world’s largest energy
importers, are cooperating to escape the fossil fuel trap by developing
clean sources of energy.