China has become the largest crude oil operator in the North Sea despite boasting that it uses deep-water oilrigs as strategic weapons. The scale of Chinese growth in the region meant that Britain handed about £2 billion in tax breaks to one state-run oil company last year, analysis by The Times has shown.

China National Offshore Oil Corporation (Cnooc), which is controlled by the Communist Party in Beijing, runs two of the North Sea’s biggest oilfields. Nexen, a Cnooc-owned company, is responsible for extracting almost 200,000 barrels a day in the area, more than 10 percent of output. CONTINUE