Milan - Italian oil and gas major Eni said on Thursday it had agreed to sell a 20 percent stake in its giant Mozambique gas field to China National Petroleum Corporation for $4.21 billion.
Eni said in a statement it would keep a 50 percent stake in the field, known as Area 4.
Last week, a source told Reuters CNPC, parent of Hong Kong and New York-listed PetroChina, was in talks to buy a 10 to 20 percent stake in the Mozambique field.
Eni has previously said it was looking for partners to help fund the estimated $50 billion it will take to bring the African country's offshore field to production.
Eni has said its offshore discovery in Mozambique is estimated to contain 75 trillion cubic feet of gas in place.
Eni intends to build liquefied natural gas terminals in Mozambique to ship the gas to energy-hungry markets in Asia.
China is most likely to be the main customer for the gas.
In the statement, Eni said it had also signed an agreement with CNPC to develop the Rongchang shale gas block in China.
On Wednesday, Eni SpA said had been approached by potential buyers for part of its 70 percent share in a Mozambique gas project that is the biggest discovery in the Italian company’s history, an official from the producer said.
“With the share we have at the moment, it’s within our discretion to carry on as we are, or to farm down” and sell a stake, Steve Ratcliffe, Eni’s senior vice president for liquefied natural gas, said today at a conference in Maputo.
Eni has discovered about 75 trillion cubic feet of gas at Area 4.
The country may have 250 trillion cubic feet of reserves, according to Empresa Nacional de Hidrocarbonetos, Mozambique’s state-backed energy company.
ENH, Galp Energia SGPS and Korea Gas Corp. each own 10 percent of Area 4.
Eni doesn’t have any specific requirements for a potential partner in the project, Ratcliffe said.
Any deal would need to have the right pricing and strategic value for the Rome-based oil company, he said.
“Within the partnership you have to have the execution capability and the financial capability to do the investments,” he said. “I believe we have the financial capability so that’s not the main driver for us.”
Mozambique’s offshore fields may hold enough gas to meet world consumption for more than two years, according to the national oil company.
Eni and Anadarko Petroleum Corp., the two companies leading exploration in Mozambique, agreed last year to build the world’s second-largest LNG export plant to start sending fuel abroad in 2018. - Reuters and Bloomberg