Norway’s Equinor is reportedly considering the purchase of UK oil assets held by Chinese state-backed operator CNOOC International, according to a Norwegian newspaper.
Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported Monday that Equinor (OSLO:EQNR) was considering a deal valued at some 20-30 billion NOK (£1.67-2.5bn) for the Chinese group’s North Sea fields.
DN cited unnamed sources close to the company and the UK financial sector.
China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) International holds interests in a number of North Sea assets, including Buzzard – one of the basin’s largest – as well as Golden Eagle, Scott and Telford.
“As a matter of principle, we never comment on rumours and speculations,” an Equinor spokesperson told Reuters.
According to DN, Equinor is “one of at least two companies” in the running for the assets.
Analysts have previously suggested that Harbour Energy, NEO Energy, Waldorf Production and Ithaca Energy could all be likely contenders, with Buzzard in particular making for an appealing acquisition target.
In March, Reuters reported that Bank of America has been drafted in to start preparing a formal sale of CNOOC’s UK assets, yet the following month the company batted away reports which suggested it was considering a withdrawal from investments in the UK North Sea, US and Canada.
Addressing reporters in a conference call in April, chief financial officer Xie Weizhi said the company group had “no plan to exit from any particular region.”
CNOOC entered the North Sea in 2013 when it acquired Nexen for £9.4bn in what was at the time the largest foreign business takeover by a Chinese company. Canadian-headquartered Nexen later changed its name to Cnooc International in 2019.
Meanwhile, parent group Cnooc Ltd reported a likely boom in income ahead of its full third-quarter results, suggesting that net income had probably more than doubled in the first nine months of the year, as it continues to reap the benefit of higher energy prices.