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CNOOC Expands Overseas Businesses with Acquisition of Nexen (Canada)

CNOOC Limited and Nexen Inc. announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which CNOOC Limited will acquire all of the outstanding common shares of Nexen for US$27.50 per share in cash.

The purchase price represents a premium of 61% to the closing price of Nexen’s common shares on the NYSE on July 20, 2012, and a premium of 66% to Nexen’s 20 trading-day volume-weighted average share price. Total cash consideration of approximately US$15.1 billion will be paid for Nexen’s common and preferred shares, and Nexen’s current debt of approximately US$4.3 billion will remain outstanding. The transaction, which will be completed by way of a plan of arrangement, is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2012.

The acquisition of Nexen expands CNOOC Limited’s overseas businesses and resource base in order to deliver long-term, sustainable growth. Nexen will complement CNOOC Limited’s large offshore production footprint in China and extends CNOOC Limited’s global presence with a high-quality asset base in many of the world’s most significant producing regions – including Western Canada, the U.K. North Sea, the Gulf of Mexico and offshore Nigeria – focused on conventional oil and gas, oil sands and shale gas. In addition, Nexen management’s current mandate will be expanded to include all of CNOOC Limited’s North American and Caribbean assets.

Nexen had average production of 207 mboe/d (after royalties) in Q2 2012. In accordance with SEC rules, Nexen had 900 mmboe of proved reserves and 1,122 mmboe of probable reserves as of December 31, 2011. In addition, as of December 31, 2011, Nexen had best estimate contingent resources of 5.6 billion boe in accordance with Canadian National Instrument 51-101, predominantly in the Canadian oil sands.

The transaction will be funded by CNOOC Limited’s existing cash resources and external financing.

Mr. Wang Yilin, Chairman of CNOOC Limited said, “The acquisition reflects our strong belief in Nexen’s rich and diverse portfolio of assets and world-class management and employees. This is an exciting opportunity for us to build on our existing joint venture relationship with Nexen in Canada, and to acquire a leading international platform in the process. We strongly believe that this acquisition will create long-term value for CNOOC Limited’s shareholders.”

Commenting on the acquisition, Mr. Barry Jackson, Chairman of the Board of Nexen, said, “This transaction delivers significant and immediate value to Nexen shareholders. The Nexen Board is unanimous in its view that the transaction is in the best interest of Nexen and recommends shareholders vote in favor of the transaction.”

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BP Gets Approval for South China Sea Exploration

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The Ministry of Commerce, People’s Republic of China, has granted consent to British Petroleum (BP), for an exploration drilling in the South China Sea in partnership with CNOOC, China Daily reveals today.

BP and the block operator CNOOC signed a deal for the exploration at the 43/11 deepwater block in South China Sea in January last year, but the agreement was subject to the Government’s approval.

This is BP’s second project in the deep waters of South China Sea after it had bought a stake in the Block 42/05 from Devon Energy China Ltd., in September 2010.

China daily reports that the partners in the project plan to use China’s first and only home made deepwater semi-submersible drilling rig Offshore Oil 981.

Asked when the exploration drilling would begin, BP China President Chen Liming told Reuters: “When we start depends on many factors, such as whether the drilling rig is ready. We hope to start drilling there by the end of the year.”

BP has been operating in China since the early 1970s and has business activities which include offshore gas production, chemical joint ventures, LPG import and marketing, oil product and lubricant retailing, chemicals joint ventures manufacturing ,technology licensing etc. According to China Daily, the British oil giant has so far invested more than USD 5 billion into China.

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CNOOC Boasts High Shale Production in US Partnerships

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China’s largest offshore oil producer, China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC), said unconventional oil and gas production in its United States partnerships totaled 3 million to 4 million barrels this year.

“We expect annual production to hit 8 million barrels as we put more capital into the wells,” said Zhu Weilin, executive vice-president of CNOOC Ltd.

China is estimated to hold more natural gas trapped in shale than the US, according to the US Energy Information Administration in April. Shale gas is among the largest onshore energy prospects in China.

CNOOC paid $570 million for a 33.3-percent stake in Chesapeake Energy Corp’s Niobrara shale project in Colorado and Wyoming in February this year. Last November, the company made a $1.8-billion purchase for a one-third stake in Chesapeake’s Eagle Ford project in south Texas.

He said his company is looking for opportunities with US companies in deepwater exploration as well as shale gas and oil.
“CNOOC has 19 offshore blocks in China that we are looking for foreign partners to co-develop,” said Zhu at the recent China-US Relations Conference.

“We see other small Chinese companies coming to the US for partnerships and supply agreements in unconventional oil and gas fields,” said Christine Ehlig-Economides, professor of the Petroleum Engineering Department at Texas A&M University. “This is one area they want to learn from.”

Industry analysts said China is paying a high premium for the partnerships while others have said Chinese is learning new exploration techniques through the projects.

The prices China’s State-owned oil companies have paid for assets are mixed; in some cases, they may have paid above market value but recent economic conditions, good financial performances, and growing experience with international deals have benefited the companies, according to a report by the International Energy Agency.

Two-thirds of the USD 70 billion invested in 144 projects overseas by China’s three oil giants, Sinopec Group, China National Petroleum Corp and CNOOC, have not turned a profit thus far, according to a recent report by the China University of Petroleum and the China Petroleum and Chemical Industry Association.

“Natural resources are one of the few sectors where the US government has stringent scrutiny because they are the strategic industries,” said Huang Yasheng, professor at the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In 2005, CNOOC dropped its USD 18.5-billion bid for Unocal Corp because of opposition from US lawmakers.

It would have been the largest overseas acquisition by a Chinese company.

“Chinese companies should position themselves globally, rather than nationally,” said Xiang Bing, founding dean of the Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business, one of China’s leading business schools.

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