Angola muscles China out of piece of Marathon interest

A short news release from Houston-based Marathon Oil today belied a bit of international give-and-take that occurred over an offshore drilling site.
Marathon simply said today that a subsidiary of Angolan national oil company Sonangol “has signed an agreement to purchase a 20 percent undivided working interest in Angola Block 32 from Marathon” and that the “terms of the agreement are the same as the previously announced transaction” and it should close next month.
That “previously announced transaction” (if there’s such thing as a “backward-looking statement,” this may be it) was revealed July 17, when Marathon issued an almost identical release announcing the sale of the same 20 percent interest in Angola Block 32 to Chinese oil companies CNOOC and Sinopec.
Both deals were for $1.3 billion, both were set to close in January 2010 and both leave Marathon with 10 percent of the interest in the block. Sonangol now will own a 40 percent interest, although Total Exploration and Production Angola — which owns 30 percent — is the operator.
According to Marathon, Block 32 is home to 11 hydrocarbon discoveries. The remaining interests are held by Esso Exploration and Production Angola (15 percent) and Petrogal (5 percent).
Marathon also has a 10 percent interest in Angola Block 31.