A Chinese state-owned oil company is in talks with Nigeria to acquire stakes in some of the world’s richest oil blocks, in potentially one of Beijing’s biggest overseas oil deals, a daily said yesterday.
China’s largest listed offshore oil and gas producer CNOOC (中國海洋石油) is seeking to buy 6 billion barrels of oil, the equivalent to one in every six barrels of the proven reserves in Nigeria, the Financial Times (FT) said.
The bids could pitch China into competition with western oil groups including Shell, Chevron, Total and ExxonMobil that partially or wholly control and operate the 23 blocks under discussion.
Sixteen licenses are up for renewal, according to the FT.
Details of the talks are contained in a letter from the office of Nigerian President Umaru Yar’Adua to Sunrise, CNOOC’s representative, a copy of which was obtained by the FT.
The overall value of the Chinese offer was not disclosed, although some details suggest a figure of about US$30 billion.
“Negotiations are ongoing not only with Sunrise/CNOOC, but also with all other stakeholders in the industry,” a spokesman for Yar’Adua said. “The federal government has not taken any final position on the issue.”
A spokesman for CNOOC in Beijing declined comment.
The letter, dated Aug. 13, said an initial offer was “unacceptable,” but added: “Your interest in all the listed blocks will be considered if your revised offer is favorable.”
China’s government-backed oil companies are seizing on the economic crisis to make landmark overseas acquisitions.