Conoco partner tries to block sale of African offshore areas

(AP file photo/Pat Sullivan)
(AP file photo/Pat Sullivan)

A ConocoPhillips partner on Tuesday moved to block the sale of Conoco’s interest in offshore areas off the coast of Africa.

Last month, Houston-based Conoco, the world’s largest independent oil producer, announced it agreed to sell its interest in three exploration blocks off the coast of Senegal to Australia’s Woodside Petroleum for about $430 million.

RELATED: ConocoPhillips to sell share of Senegal offshore blocks

Matt Fox, a Conoco executive vice president, called the move an “important milestone” as the company works to get out of deepwater exploration in West Africa. The company has been laboring to cut operating expenses. Last quarter, its losses increased sixfold from the same period a year earlier, widening from $179 million to $1.1 billion.

But on Tuesday, one of Conoco’s partners, Australian oil and gas explorer FAR Limited, said it has a contractual right to buy the offshore land before Conoco sold it to Woodside.

FAR said in a statement that Conoco “failed to comply with the terms” of a joint operating agreement, and that it had more time to buy Conoco’s interests in the offshore blocks.

In an email to the Chronicle, Conoco on Tuesday said it disagreed, would proceed with the sale and was asking Senegalese officials for approval.

The three offshore exploration blocks, Rufisque Offshore, Sangomar Offshore and Sangomar Deep Offshore, have a net value of about $250 million, Conoco said.

The company still expects to complete the sale this year, a spokeswoman said.