Harvest May Eye Chinese Buyer for Petrodelta Stake, Analyst Says

Harvest Natural Resources Inc., a U.S. oil company with producing assets in Venezuela, may find a Chinese buyer for its stake in the Petrodelta venture, according to Little Bear Research.

The “likely acquiror” for Harvest’s 32 percent stake in Petrodelta may be China National Offshore Oil Corp or China Petroleum & Chemical Corp, Zachary Prensky, an analyst with Little Bear Research in New York, wrote in a note to clients today. Petroleos de Venezuela SA, the state-owned oil company, has a 60 percent stake Petrodelta, located in eastern Venezuela.

“In my discussions with a number of industry contacts close to the situation both inside Venezuela and in the US, the two oil companies most frequently bandied about as being the likely acquiror for PetroDelta are Sinopec and CNOOC,” he said.

Harvest Chief Executive Officer James Edmiston said on March 15 that the company is in “early” stages of talks to sell its stake in Petrodelta and that any decision would be “strategic.” Venezuelan oil minister Rafael Ramirez said on March 20 that PDVSA, as the Caracas-based company is called, had the first option to buy Harvest’s stake in Petrodelta if the company found a buyer.

“What the Venezuelans would want out of any sale would be an upfront advance against future oil purchases and or a commitment to invest a substantial sum of money to increase capital expenditures on the ground,” said Prensky in a telephone interview.

Harvest Chief Financial Officer Stephen Haynes said today in a telephone interview from Houston that the company had no comment on the sale process.

E-mail and telephone messages left with Sinopec and CNOOC were not immediately returned.

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