Mark Williams, chief Asia economist at Capital Economics in London, states the obvious: "Clearly the dispute adds another layer of risk in an industry where risks are already high. Oil and gas projects take years to deliver a return. The prospect that rigs may at some point end up caught in a standoff between two navies is likely to be a chilling one for prospective investors." But CNOOC shows no sign of cooling, and its shares should remain attractive at least through the end of 2012. First, it's coming off two quarters of high prices. Crude oil topped $120 per barrel in March, a year-to-date peak. Second, CNOOC serves the eternally stable Chinese domestic market, where a $7.4 trillion economy led largely by manufacturing thirsts for more fuel sources to keep its plants running. "Its profits are higher, compared to oil companies overseas, so it's a good investment," says Liu Chia-jen, petrochemicals analyst with KGI Securities in Taipei. "Downsides are relatively few."