China's CNPC approached on Eni stake in Mozambique gas field: source

Last Updated: Thu, Mar 07, 2013 09:06 hrs

HONG KONG (Reuters) - China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) has been approached by investment banks and asked to consider buying part of Italian oil company Eni SpA's stake in a giant natural gas field in Mozambique, a person with knowledge of the matter said on Thursday.

Eni has been looking at the possibility of bringing in a partner through a multi-billion dollar stake sale to share the costs of developing the African county's offshore Area 4 field, the source told Reuters.

"CNPC is one of several oil companies that have been contacted," said the source, who asked not to be identified as he was not authorised to speak to media.

Eni, the operator of the field with a 70 percent stake, has said it is prepared to bring in partners to help fund the estimated $50 billion it will take to bring the field to production.

CNPC is in talks with Eni for a stake in the Mozambique gas project valued at as much as $4 billion, Bloomberg reported earlier on Thursday, citing sources with knowledge of the matter.

Officials with CNPC, parent of Hong Kong and New York-listed PetroChina <0857.HK> <601857.SS> were unavailable for comment. Eni officials declined to comment.

The gas field is in the same reservoir as a field owned by U.S. explorer Anadarko Petroleum Corp and several other investors. Anadarko and Indian tycoon Venugopal Dhoot are selling a 20 percent stake in the field known as Area 1 in an auction that could fetch $4.5 billion.

The gas fields discovered by Anadarko and Eni off the coast of Mozambique have pushed East Africa into the limelight as a new hydrocarbon region, attracting the interest of major oil firms.

(Reporting by Charlie Zhu; Additional reporting by Stephen Jewkes; Editing by Matt Driskill)

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