Will Peking's dispute with Washington over US arms sales to Taiwan pull the welcome mat out from under American oil companies? Of the 46 oil companies ready to take part in initial bidding for offshore Chinese tracts, 26 are American. The bidding is scheduled to take place ''early'' next year and Chinese sources indicate they continue to welcome the American oil companies. But some oil executives are cautious, worried that a sharp deterioration in Sino-American relations over Taiwan will inevitably spill over into the economic field.
Meanwhile, survey and test results in the east and south China seas so far are promising, and some oil experts sense another North Sea in the making.