China's largest offshore oil company has confirmed a plan to spin off its specialised operations unit. Wei Liucheng, president of China National Offshore Oil Corp, yesterday said: 'The exact timing, fund-raising amount and place of listing have not been decided. The [proposed listing] is still in the early stages of preparation.' Mr Wei was in Hong Kong for the results announcement of SAR-listed unit CNOOC, of which he is chairman. Investment banking sources said this week that the plan would involve flotation of assets in specialised companies, including oil services and shipping units, raising between US$200 million and US$300 million. A decision on underwriters was expected this week, and the bankers would probably be notified next week, sources said. 'The aim of the spin-off plan is to allow the group to take a quantum leap into the ranks of Fortune 500 in five years,' the sources added. CNOOC Services, a key asset of China National Offshore's, provides services for oil exploration, development and production activities. It has 12 oil platforms for drilling purposes, each costing more than US$100 million and with a life span of decades. It also has geological survey vessels to provide the seismic data used to map potential exploration sites. Drilling customers include Shell Exploration, BP Amoco, Phillips, Texaco and Exxon Mobil.