* CNPC, Petronas working with advisors to place bids
* Marathon plans to exit entire 10 pct stake in two fields
* Asia share of global oil and gas deals more than doubles
in past decade
* Global oil and gas M&A hit a record in 2012
By Denny Thomas and Saeed Azhar
HONG KONG/SINGAPORE, April 3 China National
Petroleum Corp and Malaysia's Petronas are considering bids for
Marathon Oil Corp's stakes in two Angolan offshore oil
and gas fields, people familiar with the matter said.
This would be potentially the third major energy deal in
Africa this year, a major new front for Asian state energy firms
looking to fuel fast growing economies.
Reuters estimates that at least $6 billion worth of oil and
gas blocks are being sold by U.S. independent companies, under
pressure from shareholders and taking advantage of Asian
interest to sell out of non-core assets. In total about $16
billion of oil and gas blocks are being sold globally, with $11
billion of that in Africa.
It also signals another banner year for oil and gas M&A,
after a record $345.9 billion last year. Asian firms' share has
more than doubled in a decade, according to Thomson Reuters
data, to 19.6 percent in 2012 from 7.6 percent in 2003.
Sanjeev Gupta, an Ernst & Young partner and co-author of a
report on oil and gas M&A, told Reuters affordability is not an
issue for these large state companies because they have access
to cheap government-backed funding.
"The Asian national oil companies are expected to pursue
overseas acquisition opportunities despite substantial economic
worries and geopolitical uncertainty," said Gupta.
CNPC, China's largest oil and gas company by production and
the parent of listed company PetroChina Co Ltd, last
month agreed to buy a $4.2 billion stake in a Mozambique
offshore natural gas field. U.S. oil explorer Anadarko has also
put up a stake in a Mozambique field that could fetch $4.5
Petroliam Nasional Bhd, Malaysia's state oil company, has
also been stepping up its overseas purchases. Last year, it paid
C$5.2 billion ($5.1 billion) to buy Canada's Progress Energy
Houston-based Marathon first laid out plans in late 2011 to
divest up to $3 billion worth of assets to plough money back
into other operations.
Marathon has put its entire 10 percent stake each in Blocks
31 and 32 offshore Angola up for sale, the people said. The two
Asian energy companies are working with advisors to place bids,
though no deal was imminent, they added.
BP, Total SA and Angolan state energy
company Sonangol are among Marathon's partners.
Marathon, CNPC and Petronas declined to comment. Sources
declined to be identified as the sale process is confidential.
Marathon's sale of Angolan blocks is tricky as Sonangol has
the first right of refusal on the blocks. In 2009, Sonangol
blocked a $1.3 billion deal to sell a 20 percent interest in the
32 block to China's CNOOC and Sinopec by
exercising this right.
Marathon had already sold its Alaskan assets last month and
its production levels in Libya remain uncertain following the
conflict in the region. It also has operations in Canada,
Norway, Poland and Indonesia.
Marathon's Angolan sale comes as other U.S. independent oil
majors are preparing for asset sales.
Hess Corp, which has been besieged by activist
investors pushing for change, is selling non-core assets
including its operations in Indonesia and Thailand to focus on
the North Malay basin. On Tuesday, it agreed to sell its Russian
unit to Lukoil for $2.05 billion..
Newfield Exploration Co, which is battling a drop in
production, is selling its China and Malaysia gas fields, which
analysts and bankers estimate could fetch between $1-$1.5
billion. Asia bidders are said to be interested in that asset as