NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
At least 41 lawmakers have signed a letter to President Bush requesting a tough review of an $18.5 billion takeover bid for Unocal Corp., the nation's ninth-largest oil and gas company, by a Chinese state-controlled energy producer, a news report said Saturday.
The Wall Street Journal, in a story on its Web site, reported that the letter, signed by both Democrats and Republicans, said the members of Congress "are very concerned" about the all-cash bid unveiled Wednesday by CNOOC Ltd.
The letter is just the latest sign that the fight for control of Unocal, which has already agreed to be acquired by Chevron Corp. in a $16.3 billion, cash-and-stock offer, will be bitter.
Chevron is trying to hinder CNOOC's offer by raising national security and energy policy concerns in Washington, the news report said.
The lawmakers' letter does not say they will propose legislation, and their number falls well short of a voting bloc that could pass a bill in the House.
But it shows that there are China skeptics in Congress who could take steps against a deal if CNOOC and Unocal agree on one.
Unocal said Friday it will start talks soon with CNOOC Ltd. over its $18.5 billion takeover bid after receiving permission from Chevron.
If Unocal accepts CNOOC's bid, the deal's fate may hinge on how a secretive U.S. review panel defines "national security," Reuters reported Friday.
The 12-member Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, which would probably review any proposed deal, is chaired by the Treasury secretary and brings together top White House aides, the secretaries of State, Homeland Security, Defense, Commerce and Justice and the U.S. Trade Representative.
CNOOC's unsolicited bid comes amid record oil prices, unease over China's $160 billion trade surplus with the United States and concerns about its growing military might.
For more about those concerns, click here.