UPDATE 1-Noble Energy plans to sell China oilfield stake - source

Fri Feb 21, 2014 6:19am EST

Feb 21 (Reuters) - Noble Energy Inc has hired investment bank Lazard Ltd to help arrange the sale of its majority stake in a small oilfield that it owns with Sinopec off northeastern China, a person familiar with the situation said.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier that Houston-based Noble could raise between $200 million and $300 million by selling its 57 percent stake in the Chengdaoxi field. ()

State-controlled China Petroleum & Chemical Corp, known as Sinopec, holds the remaining stake in the field, which is classified as an onshore project because it is in waters less than 5 meters (16 feet) deep.

The field, which has been pumping oil for decades, produces about 4,000 barrels of crude per day.

Noble Energy and Lazard were unavailable for comment to Reuters outside regular U.S. business hours.

Australian oil and gas producer Roc Oil Co is a among prospective bidders for Noble's holding, the Journal said, adding that the stake had attracted interest from a wide field that included other medium-sized energy companies.

Roc could not be reached by Reuters for comment.

The news of the potential sale comes about two weeks after Noble surprised Wall Street with a weak production forecast and a lower-than-expected quarterly profit.

Many U.S. oil companies have been divesting overseas assets to raise funds to develop shale projects at home.

Noble agreed earlier in February to sell part of its stake in the huge Leviathan natural gas project in Israel to Australia's Woodside Petroleum Ltd for $1.03 billion in cash and future revenues.

Earlier this week, Hong Kong-listed oil trader Brightoil Petroleum Holdings Ltd agreed to buy Anadarko Petroleum Corp's China unit for $1.08 billion.

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