As the pandemic redefined the energy consumption levels of the world, geopolitics around natural gas and oil demand and supply is also being redefined. What was essentially a US stronghold seems to have been taken over by China.
After it’s almost certain war footing with China and Iran, the US had decided to move towards more production that is domestic. It might have been a stupid and immature strategy put in place by the Trump led administration. But the damage was already done; and Beijing has all the reasons to move into the oil rich lands of Africa.
Blame it on the country’s Belt and Road initiative that has led it into energy rich lands. Under the ambitious leadership of Chinese President Xi Jinping, global infrastructure development program entails hefty Chinese-led investment in as many as 70 countries and international organizations around the world.
It has a varied energy portfolio. What has become most interesting is its interest in Africa, a market that has remained comparatively untapped. Sources confirm that Beijing is battling it out with Russia in Africa, over nuclear energy. Beijing has however shown huge interest in the oil and gas segment of Africa too.
Varied sources have confirmed that in fact, China’s national oil companies indeed are investing heavily in the exploration and production of oil and gas supplies in Africa. Undeniably, the continent is the “second largest region in supplying oil and gas to China, after the Middle East, with over 25% of its total imported oil and gas.” China’s appetite for oil is nearly insatiable, and the nation has quickly risen through the ranks to become the largest importer of black gold in the world for two years in a row.
Currently, China has a whopping USD$15 billion worth of investments planned in Africa’s oil sector. Three major players are a party to this chunky investment. These include China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (SINOPEC) and China National Offshore Oil (CNOOC).
Africa has not seen infrastructure development due to many socio-political reasons. For Beijing it’s a win-win situation. Whether it will use this to create an infrastructure for Africa, is a far-fetched hope. However, recent messaging from the various corners of Africa is speaking of their desire to collaborate with nations that can help them expand their horizons of infrastructural growth.
The flipside of all this investment by China is that the tide is actually flowing in the other direction. Sooner, the interest of the other power hungry nations like Turkey, Russia and Iran will move away from the oil rich nations like Syria, Yemen and Libya. The world is moving towards clean energy sources and fossil fuels are not looking that attractive to the powerful nations anymore.