China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. (Sinopec), Asia's largest oil refiner, will buy half of Chesapeake Energy Corp.'s Mississippi Lime oil and gas properties for $1.02 billion, becoming the latest Chinese company to pick up shale assets in North America.
Chesapeake shares were up 2 percent at $20.90 in premarket trading on Monday. The stock has risen about 23 percent this year.
Output from shale fields in the United States and Canada has jumped over the last three years due to the advent of drilling methods such as hydraulic fracturing.
Companies in China, which has the largest shale reserves in the world, are keen to get the know-how of drilling in such unconventional fields.
China's state-owned CNOOC Ltd. has struck a deal to buy Canadian oil and gas company Nexen Inc. for $15.1 billion, while U.S. company Pioneer Natural Resources Co. said last month it would sell a stake in its assets in the Wolfcamp shale field of Texas to Sinochem Group for $1.7 billion.
Sinopec will get 425,000 acres in northern Oklahoma through the deal, Sinopec and Chesapeake said in a statement.
The Mississippi Lime assets will be bought by Sinopec International.
Chesapeake has about 2.1 million net acres of leasehold in the Mississippi Lime region, where its production jumped 208 percent to an average of 32,500 barrels of oil equivalent per day in the fourth quarter, Chesapeake reported this month.
About 45 percent of the total output was oil, 46 percent was natural gas and the rest was natural gas liquids.
Sinopec's deal with Chesapeake, the second-largest gas producer in the United States, will help the Oklahoma City-based company cut down its debt, which stood at $12 billion as of Dec. 31.
Chesapeake, which closed $12 billion of asset sales last year, is targeting asset sales of $4 billion to $7 billion in 2013, the company said in a presentation earlier this month.
Chesapeake said in December it would sell most of its natural gas processing and gathering assets for $2.16 billion to Access Midstream Partners LP.
Sinopec struck a deal with Devon Energy Corp in January 2012 to buy a third of the U.S. oil and natural gas producer's interest in five developing fields for about $2.2 billion.
A unit of Sinopec signed a deal to buy Canadian oil and gas explorer Daylight Energy Ltd. for more than $2 billion in October 2011.
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