The first thing I thought when I heard about the Chinese government's effort to acquire Unocal was that British Petroleum held the role of business terra firma on the American soil of Alaska for a long time before getting out in 1989. They have pretty much dominated the supply there, though their ability to distribute is controlled by the country's possession of the Alaskan pipelne and the land.
My second thought was about America's strong lobbying efforts to open up the oil industry in other countries — most especially Russia — so the United States can buy companies or oil fields there. A 2004 speech from Ali Moshiri, managing director, ChevronTexaco Latin America (while shockingly absent any talk of conservation), brings out a plan for pushing into other countries, and some of the difficulties his company has had doing so.
With those two thoughts leading this week's reading research project I sought more information, gathering together what I've heard, read and seen just over the last couple of days.
Even after reading that the country's ninth-biggest oil company, Unocal accounts for less than 6 percent of American production and that its major asset is natural gas and oil just off-shore of Indonesia, my squirrelly gut reaction is the same. The Unocal purchase by China National Offshore Oil Corp., the third largest oil company in China (and 70-percent Chines-government owned), is part of a strategy that "Big Red" has been pursing in recent months and years to shore up its own supply.
Chevron had been the favorite in the rush to buy Unocal but why is it up for sale anyway? Isn't that a question worth asking as well? I could not find the answer online.
According to a 2003 Unocal Prospectus (PDF) seven of nine members of the Unocal voting Board of Directors are Malaysian.
Timothy Ling was Unocal chairman from 2002 to 2004 when he died of a heart attack following a workout.
Can it be a coincidence that this great push comes at a time when the President of China is, himself, an oilman, of sorts. President Hu Jintao holds a master's degree in petroleum engineering from the University of Southern California. (Source)