|Friday, 4 May 2012|
THERE is nothing as effective as a Japanese porn star when it comes to courting a Chinese oil executive, if the latest rumours out of China are to be believed. By Paul Garvey in Hong Kong
A titillating report has emerged suggesting three officials from a subsidiary of state-owned giant PetroChina were treated to a range of sexual services during a trip to Japan organised by a supplier pitching for a contract at the company’s Sichuan refinery.
According to the Boxun News website – a site that draws its stories from contributions submitted by anonymous sources – the trio were offered the company of some “minor celebrities” from Japan’s porn industry during the visit.
The rumours have been put forward as a possible explanation for why Japanese contractor Shimadzu won a tender to supply the Sichuan refinery with quality-monitoring chromatography machines.
The Shimadzu contract was said to be worth around $US2 million, well below the tender offers pitched by the group’s rivals in the US.
Where the story really gets worrisome is in its suggestions that officials were subsequently lured back to Japan for another similarly amorous adventure after the contract was awarded.
The Boxun report suggests that, after the second visit, the satisfied PetroChina officials agreed to maintain the size of the contract, but lower the specification of the equipment to be provided. That allowed the Beijing-based distributor of the equipment to allegedly pocket the difference made by substituting in cheaper, lesser monitoring equipment.
If indeed such a situation has taken place and inferior equipment has been installed, it could potentially put the whole $US6 billion refinery at risk.
Apparently, Shimadzu’s technical team quit the company after they learned of the technical modifications.
It seems unbelievable a refinery’s safety could be put into jeopardy so a supplier could pocket a few extra dollars, but unfortunately there have been a number of examples in China where cost-cutting and cosy deals have resulted in dangerous accidents. Most notably, last year’s high-speed rail disaster led to numerous accusations of corruption and massive scrutiny of the project’s tendering process and construction.
It remains to be seen whether there is any truth to the PetroChina accusations, which are predictably being called “pornstar-gate”. There is every chance the story could be a fabrication or embellishment from the Western companies that lost out on the contract to their cheaper rivals.
It would also be naive to assume that the occasional Western executive is not also prone to the odd bit of graft from time to time.
It should also not be assumed that the alleged accusations are reflective of PetroChina as a whole. The company, after all, is said to employ well over half a million people. Even with the best accounting practices in place the law of averages says such a sprawling organisation is bound to have the odd rogue element.
All the same, it is not a good look and, sadly, could reinforce some of the outdated views held in the West towards China’s oil and gas giants.
First published in sister publication EnergyNewsPremium.net.
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