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China’s recent blustering about its ownership of the entire South China Sea was made by many to be about oil and gas. Even China, in the midst of war-drum beating last May, said it was deploying CNOOC’s colossal semi-submersible, Marine Oil 981, to the Spratly Islands, to stake its claim as part of a “2020 Deepwater Daqing” strategy. Well, times change—and quickly, these days. Since that proclamation, CNOOC, the Chinese government’s global offshore spearhead, has hardly mentioned Deepwater Daqing, and CNOOC’s E&P activities as of late, are paying little mind to the Spratlys. So here’s the Chinese E&P view of the issue.
Daqing, means “Great Celebration.” It is a northeastern Chinese town in Heilongjiang province,1 famous for producing massive amounts of oil in the 1960s.2 Daqing is heralded in Chinese government lore as a “heroic struggle” of the “Ironman” oil worker against time and impossible weather conditions to produce enough fuel to “save China.” At its peak in 1976, says CNPC, Daqing produced 367 MMbbl of oil a year. Government PR says it was a “miracle”3—all due to the workers’ superhuman efforts and their belief in Mao Zedong’s political philosophy.
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