While the foreign investors stand to pocket a profit if the oil and natural gas fields produce as expected, what they're most interested in is knowledge.
With the fastest-growing economy in the world, China is immensely interested in creating its own shale oil and gas boom.
But first, it is learning from Chesapeake, Devon and other American companies.
Oppenheimer analyst Fadel Gheit described the strategy as “legalized industrial espionage.”
But unlike with illegal industrial espionage, there are no losers here.
The foreign companies pocket profits and knowledge.
The domestic companies are able to defer costs and speed up their drilling programs, increasing the royalties paid to mineral owners and taxes paid to state and local governments.
Another concern I've heard is that these joint ventures threaten energy independence.
Again, the produced oil and natural gas will stay here. Even if the effort to export liquefied natural gas takes off, exports will represent only a small portion of the country's natural gas production.
In the meantime, the foreign dollars will help increase domestic oil and natural gas production.