China-US Economic Ties

China’s CNOOC Seen Offloading US Oil and Gas Fields


Chinese oil and gas major CNOOC has sounded out potential buyers of its interests in US oilfields and shale gas fields, sources say.

The plan to retreat from Western nations was reported in April amid concern about sanctions and calls for domestic investment.

CNOOC was said to be considering an exit from operations in Britain, Canada and the United States, because of concerns in Beijing that those assets could become subject to Western sanctions, due to China’s close ties to Moscow and refusal to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Beijing has also been stepping up efforts to boost energy security, wanting CNOOC and state entities to raise domestic production and invest in new, more costly and challenging resources to help arrest fast-depleting reserves in existing conventional oilfields.

CNOOC has hired JPMorgan to advise it on a potential exit from its interests in US shale gas assets, which could raise around $2 billion, the sources familiar with the matter said.

The sources cautioned that a sale was not guaranteed, and CNOOC could still retain these interests if it did not receive suitable offers or political situations changed swiftly. They requested anonymity as the sale plans are confidential.

CNOOC and JPMorgan declined to comment.


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Gulf of Mexico Fields

In the United States, CNOOC owns interests in the onshore Eagle Ford and Rockies shale basins, as well as stakes in two large offshore fields in the Gulf of Mexico: Appomattox and Stampede.

The Chinese major is in talks with British oil and gas producer Harbour Energy for the sale of the Gulf of Mexico assets, two other sources familiar with the talks said.

Harbour Energy declined to comment.

In the Eagle Ford basin of south Texas, CNOOC’s stake is in oil and gas assets owned by US shale driller Chesapeake Energy Corp. While Chesapeake has itself put those assets up for sale, any decision there is not expected to impact CNOOC’s plans, one of the sources said.

CNOOC, which last month reported a near doubling in third-quarter profit from a year earlier on soaring oil prices, acquired the bulk of its US and other Western holdings less than a decade ago via the $15 billion purchase of Canada’s Nexen, a deal that transformed the Chinese champion into a leading global producer.

CNOOC has also been looking for a buyer of its stake in British North Sea oilfields, news that was first reported in March. Norway’s Equinor is said to be considering buying the stakes in a deal valued between 20 billion and 30 billion Norwegian crowns ($2-3 billion).


  • Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard





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Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years.

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