Exxon Mobil Corp. is in advanced negotiations with Eni SpA over acquiring a minority stake in natural-gas discoveries off Mozambique, according to two people with knowledge of the talks.
Exxon Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson discussed the plan with Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi last week in Maputo, the African nation’s capital, according to one of the people, asking not to be identified because the matter isn’t public. The U.S. oil major’s participation would potentially accelerate development of one of the world’s largest liquefied natural gas projects.
Exxon is also in talks with Anadarko Petroleum Corp. over acquiring a stake in the adjacent Area 1 in Mozambique’s offshore Rovuma Basin, the people said. Three years ago, China National Petroleum Corp. purchased 20 percent of Eni’s Area 4 for $4.2 billion.
The talks underline Exxon’s focus on gas assets after the company last week agreed to acquire explorer InterOil Corp. for as much as $3.6 billion to add gas discoveries in Papua New Guinea.
Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi said May 12 that the company is in talks on selling a stake in its Mozambique discovery and expects to reach a final investment decision on an LNG project this year.
Exxon is already focused on Mozambique after winning three exploration licenses in October for offshore blocks to the south of the Anadarko and Eni discoveries. It hasteamed up with Qatar Petroleum to look at assets in the country, four people familiar with the plans said earlier this month.