China's Exaggerated Arctic Interests

In Jonathan E. Hillman (ed), Reconnecting Asia -Essays on Asia's Infrastructure Contest.Lanham (USA), Rowman & Littlefield, 2017, pp. 35-37

China showed great interest in Arctic energy after USGS estimates of the resource potential were published in 2008. This coincided with a period of perceived energy supply problems. The concrete Chinese engagement in Arctic energy development has been quite moderate, however.  Reasons include an improved energy supply situation for China, with pipeline connections  to Central Asia and Russia, and also new suppliers in the Pacific region. Also important are developments  in world market with increased overall supplies, caused by the revolution in unconventional oil and gas production. Chinese oil companies have avoided  engagement in high risk Arctic offshore projects. They  have become more familiar with technological, cost, and operational challenges in the Arctic. The largest Chinese Artic energy investement is the Yamal LNG project. For the Chinese investors this is was a low-risk proposition. There is no doubt that China wants to be a player in the Arctic and gain competence for such a role. Chinese technology and service companies can be expected to play an increasing role, even if Chinese oil companies will not be in the driver’s seat.



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