China's Sinopec competes with ONGC's $2.5-billion bid for UK's Imperial Energy

Mumbai: State-owned China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (Sinopec) has approached London-listed oil and gas explorer Imperial Energy Corporation Plc, in a development that could derail a planned takeover of the London-based oil explorer by ONGC Videsh Ltd, the overseas arm of the Oil and Natural Gas Ltd (ONGC) of India.

Sinopec, which made an approach to Imperial last week, is currently in the process of conducting due diligence ahead of making a formal offer.

''The board of Imperial confirms that it has received another approach in relation to a possible cash offer for the company,'' Imperial Energy said in a website statement without identifying the suitor.

OVL, which had offered to acquire Imperial for 12.90-pound a share, or a total of 1.3 billion pound ($2.5 billion), may now have to enter a bidding war with the Chinese firm. (See: ONGC in bid to acquire Russia's Imperial Energy)

Imperial, with a number of oil assets in Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union, had plans to raise its oil production of about 10,000 barrels of oil a day in December last year to 80,000 barrels a day by the end of 2011.

Imperial Oil, founded by chairman Peter Levine in 2004, has been the subject of several takeover attempts, including one by Russian energy giant Gazprom.