Chinese State-Owned Energy Companies Expand Their Global Reach

Via The Wall Street Journal, an in-depth report on the latest efforts by Chinese state-owned energy companies to expand their global reach.  As the article notes:

“…Cnooc and China Petrochemical, known as Sinopec, are close to buying a stake held by U.S.-based Marathon Oil Corp. in an Angolan oil block, after agreeing to a price of around $1.8 billion, two people familiar with those negotiations said Wednesday. Marathon has chosen Sinopec and Cnooc’s joint offer over separate bids from ONGC Videsh Ltd., the overseas investment arm of India’s state-run Oil & Natural Gas Corp., and Brazil’s Petróleo Brasileiro SA, known as Petrobras, the people said.

It could take another two weeks to finalize the deal, one person said.

Separately, Cnooc has bid between $300 million and $700 million for natural gas assets in Trinidad and Tobago that are currently owned by Talisman Energy Inc., a person familiar with the matter said.

Sinopec and Cnooc are China’s second- and third-largest oil producers by capacity, after China National Petroleum Corp.

China’s oil companies have been stepping up their pursuit of overseas assets as the country’s domestic oil output stagnates, and its supply of natural gas fails to keep pace with the increase in demand. The global economic slowdown also has depressed the value of some oil and gas fields, opening up opportunities.

Just last week, Sinopec, parent of listed unit China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., struck a deal to pay $2 billion for Canada’s Tanganyika Oil Ltd., which has oil fields in Syria. Chinese mining companies also are on a similar overseas buying binge. So far this year, Chinese companies have completed $26.3 billion of deals for businesses in the oil, natural gas and mining industries, according to data provider Dealogic.

The two new prospective deals represent partial departures from the usual overseas strategy of China’s oil companies. Cnooc’s bid for the Trinidad and Tobago assets signals a reentry into the Americas, a region it had backed off from after its failed 2005 bid for California-based Unocal. The possible deal in Angola is also unusual because Chinese oil companies have typically competed with each other in getting overseas assets, rather than cooperate.


Cnooc’s overseas business is largely focused on Nigeria and Indonesia currently, although it has a small foothold in Canada’s oil-sands sector. Calgary-based Talisman’s daily output from Trinidad and Tobago averaged 6,439 barrels of oil equivalent last year, accounting for 2% of production from its international business, the company said on its Web site.

Xiao Zongwei, head of investor relations at Hong Kong-listed Cnooc, declined to comment on any possible bid for the Talisman assets. Talisman spokeswoman Teri Keyser said: “There have been a number of interested parties, but it’s too early to say” what stage the discussions are at. Talisman said in May that it wanted to sell its assets in Trinidad and Tobago in the second half of this year, as part of a strategic review.

In the Angola deal, Sinopec and Cnooc still must negotiate other terms of a sale-and-purchase agreement with Marathon for 20% of deep-water Block 32. The companies will seek approval from the Chinese and Angolan governments before a deal is completed and announced, the two people familiar with those talks said.

Lee Warren, manager of Marathon’s external communications, declined to comment, as did Cnooc’s Mr. Xiao. Sinopec’s media-relations department couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Angola is a major supplier of crude oil to China, and has been a big recipient of loans and investment from China in recent years.

Block 32, where 11 successful exploration wells have been drilled, is operated by Total SA of France, which owns a 30% stake. Sonangol, Angola’s state oil company, owns 20%, while U.S. oil major Exxon Mobil Corp. owns 15% and a unit of Portuguese oil and gas firm Galp Energia owns 5%. Marathon intends to retain a 10% interest in Block 32 after the sale.”

This entry was posted on Thursday, October 2nd, 2008 at 8:28 am and is filed under Angola, China, China National Offshore Oil Corporation, Petroleo Brasileiro, Sinopec.  You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.  Both comments and pings are currently closed. 

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