PetroChina has agreed to acquire a 40 per cent interest in an oil and gas exploration project in Qatar, the latest in a string of overseas investment deals by Chinese state-backed oil and gas companies.
PetroChina, the nation's largest oil and gas producer, has signed an agreement to buy from French energy company GDF Suez 40 per cent of the exploration and production rights in Block 4, an area of more than 2,500 square kilometres off Qatar's shores. The Qatari government has cleared the deal.
The area is located close to Qatar's North Gas Field, which, according to the state-backed Qatar Petroleum, is the world's single largest natural gas reservoir, excluding gas that coexists with petroleum.
PetroChina and GDF Suez would start drilling in Block 4 in the next few months, PetroChina said. It did not say how much it had agreed to pay for the interest, or the estimated exploration budget involved in the development of Block 4.
GDF, the project's operator, has a 60 per cent stake. It is Europe's main importer of liquefied natural gas.
Besides Block 4, PetroChina signed a deal in 2010 to join European energy giant Royal Dutch Shell to explore for natural gas in Block D, covering 8,089 square kilometres on and off Qatar's shores. PetroChina has a 25 per cent stake, while Shell, the project's operator, owns 75 per cent.
This is the third overseas investment in four days by China's state-backed oil and gas firms, which have a political mandate to enhance the nation's energy security and hedge petroleum price risks.
The China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC), the mainland's dominant offshore oil and gas producer, said on Monday that it would pay US$15.1 billion for all of Canada's Nexen, which develops conventional oil and gas in Europe and Africa, as well as oil sands and shale oil and gas in North America.
China Petrochemical, parent of Sinopec, also announced a US$1.5 billion deal to buy 49 per cent of Canada-based Talisman Energy's British unit, gaining access to oil and gas fields in the North Sea.
PetroChina bought this much interest in Qatar's Block 4 natural gas development from its French operator, GDF Suez