China is funding fracking in the UK

The Chinese government is doing more than just funding the UK’s fleet of new nuclear power plants, and taking over North Sea oil fields.

It’s also backing fracking.

The same Beijing-backed company The Times today revealed is now the UK offshore oil industry’s biggest player is also the largest shareholder in one of Britain’s biggest fracking firms.

China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) controls 13% of shale explorer IGas via its subsidiary Nexen.

That is 6% less than it owned when Unearthed first looked into IGas two years ago.

The relationship dates back to 2011 when IGas bought up Nexen’s UK onshore exploration company, in exchange for a stake in the firm.

Nexen was bought by CNOOC a couple of years later, with IGas CEO Andrew Austin telling The Telegraph that “the Chinese are well-known for their enthusiasm for unconventional assets”.

And offshore ones, it seems.

Nexen runs two of the North Sea’s biggest oil fields, extracting nearly 200,000 barrels a day and receiving billions in tax-breaks from the government.

A decade ago CNOOC was blocked from buying US oil company Unacol over national security concerns.

We have reached out to IGas for comment and will update with their reponse