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.
It explores and produces hydrocarbons in 10 countries in 4 continents, mainly in Africa and the Caribbean http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caribbean. The company holds exploration licences in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Democratic Republic of Congo,Tanzania, Mozambique, Syria, Peru and Colombia.
It holds a 100 per cent interest in 5 fields and an 85 per cent stake in 4 others in Gabon.
It owns a 100 per cent stake in the exploration fields in Omoueyi, Nyanga Mayombe, Kari and Etekamba permits, a 100 per cent stake in the Onal, OMBG and Banio permits, and an 85 per cent stake in the Onal, OMBG, OMGW and Omko production permits.
It also holds a 45 per cent stake in Seplat Petroleum Development Company, a Nigerian oil company, and has a strategic partnership with Pacific Rubiales Energy to explore and develop the Sabanero oil field in Colombia.
As of 1 January 2012, the company had oil and gas reserves of 229 million barrels of oil equivalent.
Sinopec, Asia largest refiner and natural gas distributor, is one of the most aggressive acquiring hydrocarbon company among other Chinese oil firms.
It made its first deal in the US early this year, when it invested $2.2 billion in Oklahoma-based Devon Energy in exchange for one-third of its interest in five shale gas acreages.
Last year, Sinopec acquired a stake in Chevron Corp's deepwater Indonesian project, an Australian LNG joint venture, a $3.54 billion deal to buy 30 per cent of Galp Energia's Brazilian deep-sea oil asset and the $2.1 billion acquisition of Canada's Daylight Energy Ltd.