Australia has secured an export contract worth more than US$17bn with China as a result of a China National Offshore Oil Corp outline agreement with ChevronTexaco. CNOOC was reported to have bought a 12.5 per cent stake in the Gorgon gas development off Australia's northwest coast. One market source said CNOOC would have to pay in the region of US$275m for the stake, in addition to paying 12.5 per cent of the development costs for Gorgon.
ChevronTexaco operates the Gorgon field, in which it has a 57.1 per cent stake. The other two shareholders are Royal Dutch/Shell and ExxonMobil. Gorgon has certified reserves of 12,900bn cubic feet, but its probable reserves are more than three times this amount, equivalent to about onequarter of Australia's known reserves.