* New Mozambique discovery may hold over 20 Tcf of gas
* Partner Cove has agreed bid by Shell, others seen interested
By Tom Bergin
LONDON, May 15 (Reuters) - U.S. explorer Anadarko Petroleum Corp has discovered a major new gas field offshore Mozambique in a move that could stoke a bid battle for one of its partners, Cove Energy.
Anadarko said on Tuesday the Golfinho discovery in northern Mozambique may hold more than 20 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of gas, and would underpin a plan to develop a world class liquefied natural gas export operation in Mozambique.
Houston-based Anadarko's partners in the find include Japan's Mitsui and Indian groups Bharat Petroleum and Videocon, as well as UK-listed Cove Energy, whose directors last month agreed a takeover from Royal Dutch Shell.
Shell made a $1.8 billion bid that includes a commitment to cover a tax bill, which Shell's Chief Financial Officer said pushed the bid's value to $2 billion.
Shell's bid trumped a $1.8 billion bid from Thailand's PTT that preceded the announcement of the tax liability.
Cove's shares have traded above Shell's 220 pence per share bid in recent weeks, after some hedge funds bought into the stock hoping for a counterbid from PTT or another party.
Golfinho is 32 kilometres from the partners' Prosperidade find, whose reserves could top 30 Tcf. Anadarko said it hopes to begin LNG exports later this decade.
Big oil companies including Exxon Mobil, Norway's Statoil, UK-based BG Group have begun exploring along the eastern coast of Africa in recent years, targeted major gas reserves.
Currently Mozambique and Tanzania produce only small volumes of gas.