Statoil-CNOOC Deal Opens U.S. Gulf to Chinese Oil Cos

In its third quarter report, Statoil confirmed that it has signed an agreement with China's CNOOC for a number of stakes in its Gulf of Mexico (GOM) leases. Significantly, the deal opens the U.S. Gulf of Mexico to Chinese oil companies for the first time.

In the farm-down agreement with the Norwegian oil firm, CNOOC will secure equity stakes in four GOM fields in exchange for bearing some of the fields' development costs.

China's largest offshore oil and gas producer by capacity, CNOOC will acquire a 20% stake in Tucker and a 10% stake in Logan, 10% in Cobra in the Alaminos Canyon and 10% in Krakatoa in the Mississippi Canyon. Both the Tucker and Logan fields are situated in the Walker Ridge area of the Gulf of Mexico.

"This type of cooperation is very common. Through that, the two companies can make full use of each other's advantages, share risks and profits," CNOOC spokesman Xiao Zongwei told Dow Jones Newswires.

Additionally, Statoil spokesman Kai Nielsen revealed to Dow Jones that the leases up for grabs to the Chinese oil major were acquired in the 2007 and 2008 lease sales with Statoil securing a 100% working interest in the fields.

"In the Gulf of Mexico, it is customary to optimize the portfolio and spread risk involved in exploration drilling efforts," Dow Jones quoted Nielsen as saying. 

Neilsen also noted that Statoil retains operatorship of all four fields and that the farm-down agreement did not signal a shift in its Gulf of Mexico ownership, Dow Jones reported.