Report: CNOOC, Ghana Petro In Kosmos Talks

NEW YORK (Reuters) – China National Offshore Oil Corp is in talks with Ghana National Petroleum Corp to bid for a stake in a large oil discovery off West Africa, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing unnamed sources.

The offer for Kosmos Energy’s stake in the discovery, Jubilee, would rival a $4 billion bid by Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N), the Journal said.

The paper said CNOOC and GNPC plan to submit a strong competing bid in the next few days, citing one person familiar with the matter.

According to the Journal, the Chinese company sent some senior officials to Ghana several weeks ago, including CNOOC Chairman Fu Chengyu. The paper said CNOOC committed to an equity stake for GNPC in the deal and discussed helping the Ghanaians develop their national oil company.

Dallas-based Kosmos confirmed on Monday that it had agreed to sell its 23.5 percent stake in Jubilee to Exxon, the Journal said. Kosmos is backed by private-equity firms Blackstone Group (BX.N) and Warburg Pincus.

Reuters reported last week that GNPC was still interested in buying Kosmos Energy’s stake in the giant Jubilee oil field, citing a GNPC source.

The GNPC source indicated the Ghanaian company could ultimately sell on any interest gained, while a separate source close to the matter said GNPC’s desire for a role “can be accommodated.”

Ghana has hired Morgan Stanley as its investment banker to advise it on the process. (Reporting by Michael Erman and Paritosh Bansal; Editing by Maureen Bavdek)