CNOOC likely to spend $5bn on Queensland Curtis LNG – Moody’s

05 November 2012 11:12  [Source: ICIS news]

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--China National Offshore Corp (CNOOC) is expected to spend about $5.0bn (€3.9bn) on Queensland Curtis LNG (QCLNG), in which the company has acquired an equity interest, ratings firm Moody’s Investor Service said on Monday.

The amount will cover the acquisition cost of a partial stake in the Australian liquefied natural gas (LNG) project, as well as capital expenditure, said Moody’s vice president and senior analyst Simon Wong in a statement.

CNOOC has bought a stake in the QCLNG project for $1.93bn from BG Group. Moody’s said the acquisition is “credit negative” for CNOOC but has no immediate impact on its “Aa3” rating and stable outlook.

"The deal indicates a very aggressive level of risk appetite on the part of CNOOC, as it was announced just four months after CNOOC Ltd – CNOOC's 64%-owned subsidiary – proposed the acquisition of Nexen Inc for $15.1bn, said Wong.

"If both deals proceed as proposed, CNOOC's consolidated financial profile will materially weaken,” the analyst said.

Moody’s, however, is maintaining its “Aa3” rating on CNOOC Group, which enjoys a high level of support from the Chinese government given the group’s “strategic importance to China’s energy security”.

"We consider that the increase in CNOOC's stake in the QCLNG project and the long-term LNG supply agreement with BG Group will further strengthen CNOOC's dominant position as China's largest importer for LNG," said Kai Hu, Moody's local market analyst for CNOOC.

CNOOC owns most LNG-receiving ports in operation and under construction in China. In 2011, the group imported 11m tonnes of LNG, Moody’s said.

"The QCLNG deal is also in line with China's energy strategy as the Chinese government advocates more use of natural gas to reduce carbon emissions and diversify energy sources," Hu said.

($1 = €0.78)

By: Pearl Bantillo
+65 6780 4359

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