CNOOC to take majority interest in West African petroleum licenses

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(Reuters) – Australian oil and gas explorer FAR Ltd, which holds a stake in licenses for oil drilling off the coast of West Africa’s Guinea-Bissau, said a unit of China National Offshore Oil Corp will take a majority stake in the projects.

CNOOC will get a 55.6% stake in the Sinapa and Esperanca licenses from Sweden’s Svenska Petroleum Exploration AB, whose interest will be reduced to 23.03%, FAR said in a statement on Tuesday. It did not disclose financial details.

The Chinese oil producer can opt to become the operator of the joint venture after an upcoming offshore drilling campaign is completed.

CNOOC’s interest will be converted to a 50% stake if there is a commercial discovery, FAR said.

FAR will continue to hold a 21.42% stake in each of the licenses.

Svenska Petroleum Exploration GB is a unit of Petroswede AB, which is indirectly owned by Saudi Billionaire Sheikh Mohammed H. Al-Amoudi.

CNOOC has a 25% stake in Guyana’s prolific Stabroek Block where operator ExxonMobil has to date found more than 6 billion barrels of oil.