Thailand’s PTT Vies With Shell In Africa

Courtesy of The Wall Street Journal, a look at Thailand’s efforts to acquire petroleum assets in other parts of the world:

Japan, Korea, China – now add Thailand to the list of state-backed energy companies that are aggressively buying up assets in far-flung parts of the world.

Thailand’s PTT Exploration & Production PCL emerged as a surprise rival bidder to Royal Dutch Shell PLC for Cove Energy PLC on Friday. Cove, which has access to offshore gas fields in Mozambique, was widely expected to accept Shell’s $1.6 billion offer before PTTEP jumped in with a $1.8 billion bid.

PTTEP shares opened down 0.8% in Bangkok on Monday morning. Cove shares jumped 25% on Friday in London, indicating that investors expected a higher bid to come in.

PTTEP, part of state-owned conglomerate PTT PCL and Thailand’s largest energy company by revenue, has been rapidly expanding its overseas presence to make up for falling reserves in Thailand’s own oil and gas fields. It has operations in more than 10 countries, including Vietnam, Myanmar and Oman.

It made its largest-ever acquisition in November 2010 when it bought a 40% stake in a Canadian oil sands project from Norway’s Statoil ASA for $2.28 billion.

But it’s hit some serious snags along the way too. One of its oil fields off the coast of Australia in the Timor Sea, Montara, was hit by a leak in 2009. It became the worst oil spill in Australian history, leaking more than 20,000 barrels. Commercial operations there have been postponed repeatedly to until at least the third quarter of this year, as the company says it strives to meet stringent safety standards imposed by the Australian government.

However, Australia has not revoked PTTEP’s license in the country after the accident, and the company says it is in talks to acquire a stake in a LNG project in the country, in a deal likely to be concluded in the first half of this year.

PTTEP said last month it plans to raise $1.5 billion this year mostly through loans, as well as bonds, with $1 billion going towards refinancing debt that matures in the first half of the year.

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