| SINGAPORE, April 10
SINGAPORE, April 10 Malaysia's Petronas has
pitched an estimated $1 billion stake in a prized upstream local
gas project to potential bidders including Royal Dutch Shell
, ExxonMobil Corp, Thailand's PTT Exploration
and Production and Japanese firms, sources familiar
with the matter said.
If successful, the deal could mark Petronas'
biggest upstream stake sale since oil prices started declining
more than two years ago. Petronas is targeting lowering
operating expenses, job cuts and project rollbacks to help it
navigate through the low oil price environment.
The state-owned oil and gas company has approached about a
dozen prospective buyers including global oil majors and Asian
firms focused on Southeast Asia, said the sources, who declined
to be identified as the talks are private.
They said Petronas has begun providing financial and
operational data to the companies and expects to receive bids
over the next few weeks.
Citing sources, Reuters reported in February that Petronas
was considering selling a stake of as much as 49 percent in the
SK316 offshore gas block in Malaysia's Sarawak state.
In a statement to Reuters, Petronas said that through its
subsidiary, Petronas Carigali Sdn Bhd, it is looking for
partners who can bring the technology and capabilities to
explore, develop and efficiently operate the various fields and
opportunities in the SK316 offshore gas block.
"We are confident that we will attract the right partners to
maximise the potential value of these opportunities to help meet
the world's growing oil and gas demand," Petronas said.
It was not immediately known what the individual companies'
response to Petronas' approach was.
ExxonMobil declined to comment, while Shell referred the
query to Petronas. A spokeswoman for PTTEP declined to comment
on the deal but said the company was keen to invest in Southeast
Asia because it had expertise in the region where costs and
risks were low.
(Reporting by Anshuman Daga and Gloystein Henning in SINGAPORE;
Additional reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi in KUALA LUMPUR,
Jessica Jaganathan in SINGAPORE, Satawasin Staporncharnchai in
BANGKOK and Osamu Tsukimori in TOKYO; Editing by Muralikumar