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China Tightens Grip on Africa’s Energy Resources with Stake in Offshore Field

Today a topical post the latest from Money Morning, which as I previously explained will be featured here whenever they have relevant material to offer. As always, normal caveats apply: I am not an investment advisor. I don’t endorse any specific stocks mentioned in the following story nor the ad at the end of the story.

China Tightens Grip on Africa’s Energy Resources with Stake in Offshore Field

By Jason Simpkins Managing EditorMoney Morning

CNOOC Ltd. (NYSE ADR: CEO) and Sinopec Corp. (NYSE ADR: SHI) have agreed to buy a 20% stake in an oil field off the shore of Angola for $1.3 billion, illustrating China’s persistent attempts to acquire resources for its economic expansion at a time of weakness for many Western oil majors.

CNOOC and Sinopec will form a 50-50 joint venture to buy the stake in the so-called Angola Block 32, which has 12 previously announced discoveries. The Chinese energy giants purchased the stake from U.S.-based Marathon Oil Corp. (NYSE: MRO), but the sale is still subject to government and regulatory approval.

Marathon’s existing partners in the block – France’s Total SA (NYSE ADR: TOT), Portugal’s Galp Energia SGPS SA, Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM), and Sonangal, Angola’s state-owned oil company – have a right of first refusal. Marathon will keep a 10% interest in the block.

The oil field “is a significant resource base with estimated recoverable light crude oil reserves of 1.5 billion barrels,” Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS) analysts wrote in a report, according to MarketWatch. “The $1.3 billion consideration compares with our valuation of $1.4 billion to $1.65 billion and Marathon’s publicly disclosed offer of $1.8 billion to $2 billion.”

The acquisition will build on CNOOC’s “growing deepwater exposure” and values the recoverable reserves at $4.30 a barrel, the analysts said.

The acquisition will also build on two of Beijing’s broader objectives: Securing long-term energy resources and expanding its presence in underdeveloped, and riskier, countries in Africa and the Middle East.

Since last fall, China has been using the Western world’s financial crisis as an opportunity to stock up on commodities while prices are low.

Sinopec recently paid $7.22 billion to acquire the Addax Petroleum Corp., a Canada-based energy company with operations in West Africa and Iraq. Meanwhile, Sinopec’s rival, China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC), made its own foray into Iraq, winning the first contract in more than 30 years to develop the Rumaila oil field.

China’s involvement in Africa has an even richer history. In 2006, Beijing hosted the China-Africa Cooperation Forum – an event attended by more than 40 African heads of state. At the forum, China unveiled $9 billion in preferential loans, export credits, and trade incentives – all part of a strategic plan to achieve a preferential status with key African nations.The meeting was more than a mere publicity stunt to play up Beijing’s humanitarian efforts. It was a symbolic acknowledgment of growing cooperation between the regions.China has invested tens of billions of dollars directly into African-infrastructure and social-development projects, all in an effort to tighten its grip on the continent’s resources. Some examples:

  • In Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, office blocks, military headquarters and a refurbished stadium are all the work of planners from Beijing.
  • In Uganda, the new State House was built with Chinese money.
  • In the city of Rwanda, Chinese companies built 80% of all new roads.
  • And in Nigeria, China’s Civil Engineering Construction Corp. is building an $8.3 billion railroad linking Lagos and Kano.
  • And Money Morning Investment Director Keith Fitz-Gerald says this is only the beginning.
    “It’s a virtual certainty that China will maintain this policy going forward,” Fitz-Gerald said. “My contacts in China and Africa have told me point blank that China’s leaders ‘don’t care about human rights or nukes or hostile governments.’ What matters is anyone who provides oil to China no matter what the rest of the world thinks.”

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    July 22, 2009 Posted by | Africa, China, ExxonMobil, Money Morning, Total, XOM | 31 Comments

    Future Reserves

    Just going through some files on my hard drive, and I ran across the following story. Unfortunately, I don’t have the source. But it’s an interesting look at where projected future oil reserves are expected to come from. It also reinforces the difficulty that the international oil companies are going to have replacing their reserves – as most of the remaining reserves are in the hands of national oil companies.

    Who Will Supply the World?


    The continent has about 10 per cent of proven global oil reserves and 8 per cent of the world’s gas. The biggest oil producers are Nigeria, Algeria, Libya and Angola, which account for roughly three- quarters of Africa’s oil production. West Africa has become a focus for exploration and has attracted huge investment, such as BP’s dollars 900m deal with Tripoli. The US is expected to buy about 25 per cent of its oil from the area within the next 10 years, up from 15 per cent, which accounts partly for an increase in US military cooperation with African states. China is also securing exploration and drilling licences.

    Saudi Arabia

    The kingdom accounts for 19 per cent of world oil exports. Many analysts expect it to supply a quarter of the world’s added production over the next few years. And as the only producer with significant excess capacity, it has played a crucial role in alleviating temporary supply disruptions. The Saudis won’t say how much oil they are extracting from individual wells, or what reserves remain in individual oil fields. But the total amount that the kingdom produces has been declining, down a million barrels a day over the last two years. Giant oil reserves were discovered six years ago in the vast desert known as the Empty Quarter. According to estimates, the new fields could produce up to 2.2 million barrels a day for another 50 years.


    Less than 10 per cent of its territory has so far been prospected for oil. Given adequate investment and technological modernisation, Iran could more than double its present production levels to eight million barrels a day, a capacity it had in the early 1970s when oil prices hovered around dollars 11 per barrel. In real purchasing power, today’s oil price is cheaper than it was then.


    The discovery of new fields in Eastern Siberia could provide between two and three billion tons of oil. In the past two to three years the Natural Resources Ministry has offered a significant number of fields in tenders in Sakha Republic (Yakutia) and Irkutsk region.


    In the next decade, PetroChina plans to increase its proven oil reserves to 100 million metric tons a year at its Daqing oilfield to meet rising energy demand.


    Important new fields are being prospected all the time, most notably and recently in the Anbar province, where al-Qaeda forces have been making their strongest challenge. Iraq has the third largest oil reserves of any nation, and that’s if you take the lowest estimate of its reserves. Its oil is of purer quality, and nearer to the surface, than that of many of its rivals. Basra could be as rich as Kuwait in five years.


    A huge offshore oil discovery could help Brazil join the ranks of the world’s major exporters, but full-scale extraction is unlikely until 2013 and will be very expensive. The “ultra-deep” Tupi field off the coast of Rio de Janeiro could hold eight billion barrels of recoverable light crude, and initial production should exceed 100,000 barrels daily.

    Brazilian state oil company Petrobras will start pilot pumping in 2010 or 2011, but full production will take several more years. Getting the oil out will be an expensive and formidable challenge because the oil is so deep under the earth’s surface. The lag time before production means that any impact on world oil prices won’t come soon.

    January 31, 2008 Posted by | Africa, Brazil, China, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia | 18 Comments