China Oil Major CNOOC Has 'No Plan to Exit' Any Region: Executive
05.02.2022 - NEWS

May 2, 2022 [NIKKEI ASIA] – Chinese state oil major CNOOC on Thursday shrugged off recent media reports that the company is considering withdrawing from oil field investments in the U.K., the U.S. and Canada to diminish its vulnerability to sanctions.

 

A global spotlight has hit China’s state oil companies, searching for any potential sale or acquisition of overseas energy assets amid Western-led sanctions targeting Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

Xie Weizhi, CNOOC’s chief financial officer, told reporters at a quarterly earnings call that the company has “no plan to exit from any particular region.” All of CNOOC’s overseas projects are operating smoothly, he said, and the company has felt no impact from the Russia-Ukraine war or any related sanctions.

Xie stressed that CNOOC is “just like any other” oil company with upstream assets, seeking exploration and development projects worldwide to secure stable production. It engages in a “constant pursuit for opportunities to adjust and optimize the asset composition,” he said, a practice in line with global players.

This was the first time an executive from CNOOC, a core listed arm of China National Offshore Oil Corp., spoke publicly about the media reports. Xu Keqiang, who announced his resignation as chief executive on Thursday, told investors prior to CNOOC’s Shanghai listing last week that the company “will not comment on market rumors.”

Chinese oil companies are reportedly in talks with Western peers seeking to exit Russia, and Xie acknowledged that news reports of potential Chinese buyers are “particularly numerous.”

After Shell said last week it would sell the company’s 27.5% stake in the Sakhalin-2 liquefied natural gas project in the Russian Far East, various media outlets reported that all three Chinese oil majors — CNOOC, China National Petroleum Corp. and China Petrochemical, known as Sinopec — were negotiating to fill the vacuum.

ExxonMobil said last month it would “discontinue operations” and was “developing steps” to exit the Sakhalin-1 project. BP announced at the end of February that it would divest its 19.75% stake in Russian oil company Rosneft.

Xie said CNOOC “neither has a plan nor has taken specific actions” regarding these assets in Russia being departed by Western energy groups. It remains unclear how the exits are taking place, he said, as details are not disclosed. Xie noted that withdrawing from major energy assets usually requires consent from the host government.

But Xie did not rule out the possibility of stepping in, as he acknowledged that the company is “closely monitoring” these developments.

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