United States energy analysts say that China is following a delicate political strategy after internal debate among the Chinese authorities about how to punish the American oil company. The Chinese seem to want to show environmental concern, the analysts say, but they will not push hard enough to scare away foreign investment in energy or to embarrass Cnooc.
“China needs all the help it can get to achieve energy efficiency, so they can’t afford to play hardball,” said Fadel Gheit, a senior oil analyst at Oppenheimer & Company. “China will push, but not to the breaking point and be like Hugo Chávez. They need the capital, the technology and market know-how. So it’s not going to be a good deal.”