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Gulf Oil: If America Won't, China Will

China has reached a new international agreement that enables them to drill for oil directly in the Gulf. No, not the Persian Gulf....the Gulf of Mexico.

A new agreement between China and Cuba has put Chinese rigs just 50 miles off the coast of Key West, Florida. As Fred Stakelbeck notes in Monsters & Critics, Sino-Cuba energy relations are raising concern in Washington.

The presence of Chinese state-owned oil rigs operating less than 50 miles from the Florida Keys has raised alarm among some members of Congress who view Beijing’s actions in the area as a veiled attempt to reduce America’s dominant role in the Western Hemisphere. “China is trying to lock up resources around the world, and they are locking up resources in our own backyard,” noted Idaho Republican Senator Larry Craig. “This is simply wrong. I’ve had enough, and I believe the American people have had enough,” he said.

Following the mandates of a treaty made during the Carter administration that ceded oil rights to a significant portion of the Florida Straits to Cuba, the small island nation has since divided its offshore oil fields into 59 blocks of which 16 have been leased to various countries such as China, India, Canada and Norway. In 2005, U.S. President George W. Bush renewed the controversial treaty for an additional two years, angering U.S. energy companies and the Republican Congress.

Consider that the use of slant drilling techniques will allow Chinese, Cuban and/or other countries' rigs to draw resources from even within the 50-mile territorial lines.

When it comes to Energy Security and thus Economic Security, if America won't drill for oil reserves off its coastlines, China most certainly will.

For all of the beating America takes for so-called aggression world-wide, the astute observer will not argue against the fact that America is - for many reasons and to a fault - conflict averse.

If one disagrees with that conclusion, consider how Fred's closing question should be answered:

One final question: Since China is drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico; can we expect U.S. energy companies to one day drill for oil in the South China Sea?

Don’t hold your breath.