Despite being a vocal critic in 2005 of China’s efforts to buy the American oil company Unocal, he has declined comment regarding Chesapeake Energy’s recent $1.02 billion joint venture with a Chinese oil company for part of Chesapeake’s holdings in northern Oklahoma and southern Kansas — acreage in the Mississippi Lime play.
A spokeswoman for Inhofe indicated he would have no comment about the Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake’s venture with China’s Sinopec International Petroleum Exploration and Production Corp.
Nevertheless, Inhofe has led some criticism of previous efforts by Chinese firms to control U.S. energy companies.
In addition to the Unocal deal, which Congress eventually halted, he was outspoken last year when the Chinese National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) attempted to buy Nexen Inc. At the time, Inhofe and three other Republican senators wrote then- Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to oppose the deal.
“As foreign national interest is mixed with profit motivation, there is the increased likelihood of dislocation between the best interest of the host country and that of the state-owned foreign business,” they wrote in the Sept. 13, 2012 letter. “When ownership and control of a company rests in the hands of a foreign government, that company should be viewed as an agent of the foreign government itself, even if it is operating through a U.S. based subsidiary.”
Still, Inhofe declined comment about Chesapeake’s 2011 deal with CNOOC in which the Chinese firm paid $570 million for one-third interest in oil and natural gas leases held by Chesapeake. That sale involved some 800,000 acres of Chesapeake leases in parts of Wyoming and Colorado. At the same time, CNOOC was committed to another $697 million to help Chesapeake with drilling and completion expenses through 2014.
U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, and Gov. Mary Fallin also declined comment on Chesapeake’s latest venture with Sinopec.
At least one prominent state Republican, J. B. Alexander, who chairs the Tulsa County Republican Party, has been a vocal critic of the Chesapeake- Chinese agreement.
“These purchases are by the Chinese government, not companies,” he told Oklahoma Gazette. “We’ve sold off ownership of oil and gas resources to a Communist government we owe.”
He said it means the country is just going deeper in debt to the Chinese.
“It will leave our country enslaved to a Communist country,” said Alexander. “We sent people to Vietnam and Korea to stop communism and sacrificed the lives of Americans to do it.
Now we’re selling off our country.”
A Chesapeake spokesman declined comment for this story.