(GIN) – In what may be one of its biggest overseas oil deals, a Chinese state-owned oil company is preparing to sign 16 oil licenses, making it the owner of some of the world's richest oil blocks located in Nigeria.
If successful, the China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC) would compete with Western oil groups including Shell, Chevron, Total and ExxonMobil which partially or wholly control and operate the 23 blocks now in play.
A spokesman for President Umaru Yar'Adua said that negotiations "are ongoing" not only with China's CNOOC but also with all other stakeholders in the industry" and that no final position had been taken on the issue.
Meanwhile, militants of MEND, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, condemned the planned purchase. "We can guarantee that if the government of Nigeria fails to address the root issues, the Chinese will regret they were negotiating with the wrong people," they said in a press statement.
In a related development, the Ethiopian government this week said that its national electricity company had signed contracts with three Chinese firms to develop hydro-electric projects and made preliminary accords for wind power projects.
According to the state Ethiopian News Agency, the building of at least six new dams would be part of a $12-billion plan over 25 years to improve the power network.