Chinese Firm CNOOC to Buy 45% Stake in Nigerian Oil Field

From Associated Press

Chinese state-controlled oil company CNOOC Ltd. said Monday that it agreed to pay $2.3 billion for a 45% stake in a Nigerian oil field in its first major investment since its failed bid to take over Unocal Corp. last year.

The deal adds to a multibillion-dollar string of foreign acquisitions by Chinese oil companies, which are aggressively pursuing energy supplies to fuel China's booming economy.

The agreement, which requires approval from the Nigerian and Chinese governments, covers a deep-water area of the oil-rich Niger Delta region, CNOOC said. It said the area includes the Akpo oil field discovered in 2000 and three other "significant discoveries."

Another contender for the Nigerian field was India's biggest oil company, state-owned Oil & Natural Gas Corp., which submitted a winning $2-billion bid last month. But the Indian cabinet blocked that deal, saying it wasn't commercially viable.

The deal serves Hong Kong-based CNOOC's desire to grow "through the exploration and development of offshore fields and achieving geographic diversification of the company's portfolio," Chairman Fu Chengyu said.

CNOOC, whose parent is China National Offshore Oil Corp., said it would pay for the deal out of its cash reserves.

CNOOC offered $18.5 billion last year for El Segundo-based Unocal but withdrew its bid in August because of opposition from U.S. politicians. San Ramon, Calif.-based Chevron Corp. then bought Unocal.

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