US dreams of energy security involve the easy access to abundant oil and gas sources both domestically, and also from its neighbours.
With its huge oil reserves, Canada is the most important of those neighbours. So did President Obama drop a ball when rejecting plans for the Keystone XL Pipeline?
Well, he didn’t so much as drop the ball as hand it straight to China.
If China manage to get a decent foothold in Canada’s oil sands it could prove very worrying to the US and their energy dreams. Yet we can’t blame Canada, they only want to sell their oil, and they did come to the US first.
The US do have one small card to play. The Canadian firm, Nexen Inc., which CNOOC are trying to buy for $15.1 billion, has American holdings, allowing the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (CFIUS) to interfere in the deal. No doubt the US will try and wield this power to draw as much as possible from the Chinese in reward for their approval of the deal.
Charles Schumer, the Senate’s number three Democrat, suggests that the Chinese should be forced to provide fair access for US companies to its domestic markets.
Although, as George Weir of the Washington Times says, the Chinese would probably deal with the demands for market access with their usual approach, delay, delay, delay.