Monday, July 5, 2010

The oil industry hates scrutiny

Our first example comes from China:

An American geologist held and tortured by China's state security agents was sentenced to eight years in prison Monday for gathering data on the Chinese oil industry in a case that highlights the government's use of vague secrets laws to restrict business information.

In pronouncing Xue Feng guilty of spying and collecting state secrets, the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court said his actions “endangered our country's national security.”

Its verdict said Mr. Xue received documents on geological conditions of onshore oil wells and a data base that gave the coordinates of more than 30,000 oil and gas wells belonging to China National Petroleum Corporation and listed subsidiary PetroChina Ltd. That information, it said, was sold to IHS Energy, the U.S. consultancy Mr. Xue worked for and now known as IHS Inc.

From the Globe and Mail. Not a huge surprise perhaps; China is not noted for its freedoms (except in comparison to the DPRK). But stuff like this would never happen in Western democracies, would it? Well, don't be so sure. Admittedly, not as draconian as China's law, but it raises more than a few red flags...

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