CNOOC chairman Wei Liucheng feels China's largest offshore oil and gas producer is close to sealing a deal for an overseas oilfield. An industry source said embattled United States energy trading group Enron was the probable seller. The location of the field is not known, but the acquisition is expected to bolster CNOOC's daily output significantly. '[The acquisition] is very likely to be in the very near future,' Mr Wei told state-run China Central Television, according to a Reuters' report. 'If, after a week's time, you suddenly hear that CNOOC had spent US$600 million to acquire a large oilfield overseas, I hope you will not be surprised,' he said. Analysts said they were told late last year CNOOC had set a production target of 110 million barrels of oil equivalent (boe) for this year, but this would be raised to 125 million boe if a planned acquisition materialised. Last year's production was about 95 million boe. CNOOC chief financial officer Mark Qiu Zilei would not confirm the targets, saying there had been a lot of speculation about the company recently and it would soon clarify this year's strategy. He would not comment on speculation of an oilfield purchase from Enron. On December 21, Enron filed the largest bankruptcy in United States' history. The highly leveraged Houston-based energy trader was believed to have used special-purpose entities in transactions to reduce liabilities on its balance sheet in order to maintain its good credit rating and avoid calls for early debt repayments. Mr Qiu indicated that CNOOC's primary focus was on oil and gas development in offshore China, but it might take advantage of attractive investment opportunities overseas. 'Overseas exploration is not our core strategy, but we are not against attractive investment opportunities that make sense to our shareholders,' he said. He said the difficult economic and industry environment, which caused oil prices to drop sharply in recent months, created acquisition opportunities. Some highly leveraged companies had been forced to shed assets to survive. Meanwhile, CNOOC parent China National Offshore Oil Corp is to invest about three billion yuan (HK$2.8 billion) to expand production capacity at a fertiliser plant in Hainan province that it acquired last year from the Government. Upon completion, expected late next year, the plant will have an annual urea production capacity of more than 1.2 million tonnes, 450,000 tonnes of synthetic ammonia and 600,000 tonnes of methanol, making it China's largest fertiliser facility. It is one of three major downstream projects aimed at making it an integrated oil giant. Yesterday, CNOOC's share price rose 5.33 per cent, to HK$7.90, as oil prices rose to their highest levels since mid-October.