Chinese oil companies ink new deals overseas

Updated: 2012-01-04 11:14

By Liu Yiyu (China Daily)

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NEW YORK — Chinese oil companies continue the trend of overseas investment in exploration and production at the beginning of the new year.

A subsidiary of China Petroleum and Chemical Corp (Sinopec), Sinopec International Petroleum Exploration & Production Corporation (SIPC),

invested $2.2 billion in exchange for one-third of five new venture plays owned by Devon, according to a statement on Tuesday by Devon, a leading United States-based independent oil and gas producer.

The five new venture plays assembled by Devon are the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale, Niobrara, Mississippian, Ohio Utica Shale and the Michigan Basin, consisting of 1.2 million net acres. Through 2012, the companies are expected to drill about 125 gross wells in the five plays.

SIPC will make a $900 million cash payment upon closing and $1.6 billion will be paid in the form of a drilling carry. The entire $1.6 billion carry will be realized by the end of 2014, according to the company's statement.

"This arrangement improves Devon's capital efficiency by recovering our land and drilling costs to date and by signi cantly reducing our future capital commitments," John Richels, Devon's president and chief executive, said in a statement.

There were a number of companies visiting the five locations and Sinopec stood out with a strong bid because "financial consideration is very important for us", said Chip Minty, media relationship manager of Devon.

"This is the first transaction of such kind by Sinopec in the US," Minty told China Daily.

Devon will serve as the operator and is also responsible for commercially marketing all production from these plays into the North American market.

Meanwhile, PetroChina Co, China's largest oil company by market value, will buy 40 percent stake in one of the oil-sands projects owned by the Athabasca Oil Sands Corp for $673 million, marking the first oil sand project to be fully owned by a Chinese company in the region, according to a statement from the Canadian company on Tuesday.

China has been making great progress in the overseas energy market, a contrast to the political skirmish triggered by an attempt to take over the Canada-based Unocal in 2005.

Last year, Sinopec bought the conventional oil and gas energy company Daylight Energy Ltd, also based in Canada.

Offshore oil company CNOOC Ltd formed a partnership with Canada's Nexen Inc and bought a $2 billion stake in oil sands property Opti Canada Ltd.

PetroChina also invested $1.7 billion in the shale property of Chesapeake's Energy.

Last month, CNOOC and Sinopec were competing to buy a 30 percent stake in Texas-based Frac Tech Holdings LLC, a shale gas service company, in a deal that could be valued at about $2 billion, the Wall Street Journal previously reported.