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September 30, 2009

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CNOOC 'in talks with Nigeria'

CHINESE oil company CNOOC is in talks with Nigeria to buy large stakes in some of Africa's richest oil blocks, the Financial Times reported yesterday.

The value of the potential deal was not disclosed, but some details suggested a figure of about US$30 billion, the FT said.

It said CNOOC, China's No. 3 oil and gas producer and an offshore specialist, was bidding for 6 billion barrels of oil, equivalent to one sixth of the proven oil reserves in Nigeria, which vies with Angola to be Africa's largest oil producer.

Yang Hua, president of CNOOC Ltd, the listed arm that has been the main vehicle for the firm's overseas investment, declined to comment.

CNOOC's spokesman Xiao Zongwei said he had not heard of the reported development.

The FT said the deal was detailed in a letter from the office of Nigeria's president Umaru Yar'Adua to CNOOC's representative, Sunrise.

There was no immediate comment from the Nigerian presidency or from Nigerian state oil firm NNPC.

If the bid is successful, it could place the company in competition with major Western oil groups such as Total, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron and Exxon Mobil, which operate the 23 blocks under discussion, the newspaper said.

So far, the largest investment CNOOC has made in Nigeria was a US$2.69-billion stake purchased in 2006 in deep-sea oil block OML-130.


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