Sinopec to buy stake in Talisman's North Sea assets for $1.5 bn

China's Sinopec Corp yesterday agreed to buy a 49 per cent stake in Canada's Talisman Energy's UK unit for $1.5 billion, giving Asia's largest oil refiner an entry into the North Sea oil fields.

The deal comes on the same day as China's largest offshore oil and gas explorer Cnooc swooped on Canadian energy producer Nexen Inc in a blockbuster $15 billion deal – the largest overseas acquisition ever by a Chinese company.

That mega deal overshadowed the 2008 Chinalco-Rio Tinto deal under which the Chinese aluminium giant – majority owned by the Chinese government - teamed up with its US-based rival Alcoa to buy a 9-per cent stake in Anglo-Australian iron ore producer Rio Tinto for a whopping $14.3 billion, with the Pittsburgh-based company just pitching in $1.4 billion.

Although Chinalco tried to raise its stake in Rio Tinto in 2009 to 18 per cent by offering $19.5 billion, the London-based company's shareholders scuttled Beijing's plan of buying into the world's third-largest mining giant's huge trove of natural resources.

Under the Sinopec-Talisman deal, the Beijing-based company will buy a 49-per cent stake in the Aberdeen-based Talisman Energy UK, which holds operated and non-operated interests in 46 fields in the North Sea, and operates 11 offshore installations and an onshore terminal.

Both companies will also form a joint venture to invest in improving ongoing operating performance in the North Sea assets, as well as infill drilling, exploration opportunities and major projects, extending field life and deferring decommissioning.