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Financial Times: Tight supply lets CNOOC shrug off slowdown

By Justine Lauin
Published: January 30 2008

CNOOC, the Chinese offshore oil and gas producer said it expected it would be immune to a global economic slowdown because of tight oil supply in China.

State-owned CNOOC lifted production forecasts and spending this year to meet the country’s hunger for oil. Output is set to rise as some projects are expected to come on stream in 2008.

Yang Hua, chief financial officer, said: “I read from newspapers that about 60 per cent of oil used in China in 2007 was produced locally. About 30 per cent to 40 per cent was imported. That’s why I am not worried about sales of our products.”

CNOOC said it would continue to look for overseas acquisition opportunities but did not mention any specific target.

The oil producer has made a number of foreign acquisitions in the past few years, such as in Indonesia, Australia and Africa.

It bought a 45 per cent stake in an offshore oilfield in Nigeria for US$2.7bn in 2006. The field is expected to start production this year.

The Financial Times reported last November that CNOOC was considering acquiring Royal Dutch Shell’s oil assets in Australia’s North West Shelf in a deal that could be worth about A$500m (US$444m).

“Acquisition is on the agenda,” Mr Yang said.

CNOOC said it aimed to produce 195m-199m barrels of oil and gas equivalent (boe) this year, versus a revised 2007 output forecast of 169m-171m boe. It also planned to boost deep-water exploration in 2008.

The company has earmarked US$5.24bn in capital expenditure for this year, 43.7 per cent more than in 2007.

“We will take advantage of the high oil price environment and speed up our operations,” Mr Yang said.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008

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