Sinopec eyes French oil major Maurel & Prom

State-owned China Petrochemical Corp, better known as Sinopec, is considering acquisition of Etablissements Maurel & Prom, in a deal that could value the French oil explorer at more than $2 billion, Bloomberg reported on Thursday, citing three people with knowledge of the matter.

Sinopec has since the past year held informal discussions with Maurel & Prom though hurdles to a deal remain, the report said.

The move from China's biggest refiner comes after the Paris-based company's years of on-and-off talks with Indian Oil Corp, India's state-owned refiner, failed to bring about a reasonable bid for the entire company.

In 2006, Oil Corp was planning to team up with Oil India and acquire a 40 per cent stake in Maurel et Prom.

Maurel et Prom's CEO, Jean-Francois Henin had, in August, said that it was open to taking on a partner or being acquired so that it could fund the development of its hydrocarbon projects.

With a market capitalisation of €1.3 billion ($1.7 billion), Maurel et Prom is France's second-biggest oil company after Total S A.