Cnooc, Tullow in ‘Final Discussions’ for Uganda’s Oil

Cnooc Ltd., China’s biggest offshore energy explorer, said it’s in “final discussions” on cooperating with Tullow Oil Plc to develop three oil blocks in Uganda’s Lake Albert basin.

The Beijing-based company is “happy” with the Uganda government’s conditional approval for Tullow’s purchase of assets from Heritage Oil Plc, spokesman Jiang Yongzhi said by telephone today. Shares of Cnooc rose in Hong Kong trading.

Tullow, the U.K. explorer with the most licenses in Africa, had agreed earlier this year to buy Heritage’s interest in two Uganda blocks. Heritage had originally expected the sale to be cleared in the first quarter. The approval, delayed by tax issues, will pave the way for Tullow to bring in Cnooc and Total SA to help develop blocks 1, 2 and 3A in Lake Albert.

The U.K. explorer is enlisting partners to help shoulder an estimated $5 billion needed to develop the fields. About 1.5 billion barrels of oil are still to be discovered in the basin, according to Tullow estimates.

Cnooc aims to increase production by as much as 27 percent this year to help meet demand from the world’s second-biggest energy consumer. China’s economy may grow 10.1 percent in 2010, according to a Bloomberg survey of 27 economists.

Shares of Cnooc gained 2.2 percent to HK$12.98 at 10:30 a.m. local time, compared with the 1.5 percent increase in the benchmark Hang Seng Index.

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