A Chinese oil firm was linked yesterday with a possible bid for Talisman Energy, which has a significant North Sea presence.
A report in Hong Kong said Chinese oil firms were considering investing in Canada’s Talisman and Australia’s Santos to boost their energy assets at a time of soaring oil prices.
The report, citing unnamed sources, said China’s number three oil firm, CNOOC, was in talks that could lead to asset sales or a complete takeover of Talisman, Canada’s third largest oil explorer.
Talisman said yesterday it did not comment on market rumours.
Last week, the Canadian firm said it would refocus its portfolio on more material assets by selling non-core assets producing 35,000-45,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd), with expected proceeds of up to £1billion by the end of 2009.
It said it planned to exit the Netherlands, Denmark, and Trinidad and Tobago and look for additional non-core asset sales in the UK and North America.
It added that investment in the UK would mean it continued to be a key producer of 80,000-100,000boepd until at least 2013 and help it to underpin growth elsewhere.
It said this would be notably in south-east Asia, where its production has doubled in five years and has the potential to double again in the next five.
Talisman has a market capitalisation of about £10billion, but analysts believe this would not pose a problem for a company the size of CNOOC, which three years ago lost out to Chevron in the £9billion acquisition of US-based Unocal.
The Canadian oil and gas operator and CNOOC settled a long-running dispute over a shareholding in the BP-led Tangguh liquefied natural gas project in Indonesia in January, when CNOOC sold a 3.06% interest to Talisman for £106million.
Talisman was the subject of bid speculation last year, with its share price rising in Toronto and New York after French oil giant Total was mooted as a potential bidder.
Talisman shares climbed more than 4% in Toronto after the report of CNOOC’s interest, reaching a new 52-week high of £12.51.
The Hong Kong report also said PetroChina, the country’s biggest oil operator, was considering taking a stake in Santos, Australia’s third largest oil and gas producer.