September 27, 2018 / 7:40 AM / 9 months ago

China's CNOOC may divest some U.S. assets after portfolio review

The logo of China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC) is pictured at its headquarters in Beijing, China April 4, 2018. Picture taken April 4, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s CNOOC Ltd (0883.HK) is considering selling parts of its U.S. oil assets in the Gulf of Mexico, a company spokeswoman said on Thursday, but added that it does not intend to fully exit the U.S. market.

Reuters reported on Wednesday that Nexen Petroleum, a unit of state-controlled CNOOC, was planning to exit the United States, divesting its stake in giant oil and gas developments in the Gulf of Mexico amid the trade row between Washington and Beijing.

People familiar with the matter, speaking on condition of anonymity because it was private, told Reuters on Wednesday Nexen had not determined whether to sell the assets outright or swap offshore acreage with another company.

The decision to sell some U.S. assets in the Gulf of Mexico came as the state-controlled Chinese oil firm finalizes an internal restructuring that combines its Beijing-headquartered exploration and production team with Calgary-based Nexen Petroleum, which it acquired in 2013.

It also follows a large oil discovery at the Stabroek block offshore Guyana, in which CNOOC is partner of a consortium led by Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N), and which could recover more than 4 billion barrels of oil.

“We just had a review of the company’s growing global assets... The Guyana discovery is redefining our perspective,” said the spokeswoman.

The state oil firm, however, has no plan to divest stakes in producing oil assets in the Gulf of Mexico, which includes a 25 percent interest in Hess Corp’s (HES.N) Stampede development and a 21 percent stake in Royal Dutch Shell’s (RDSa.L) Appomattox development, the spokeswoman said.

The CNOOC spokeswoman did not comment on a potential link between the firm’s decision to sell some U.S. assets and the Sino-American trade war, but said the strains for a state-owned Chinese company investing in the U.S. partly prompted the firm to consider scaling back.

Editing by Henning Gloystein and Kenneth Maxwell

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