China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC) and PetroChina are both planning to take stakes in a natural gas project in Papua New Guinea owned by InterOil Corp, the South China Morning Post reported. The deal could be worth about US$500 million and discussions are expected to begin next month. However, as Beijing typically only allows one company to bid on any one overseas project, only one of the two players is expected to receive approval unless the companies bid together. The two Chinese companies and Thailand’s PTT Group are bidding for as much as 35% of the gas field development and terminal. InterOil is developing a vertically integrated oil business based around Papua New Guinea and the surrounding area. It has licenses for 1.86 million hectares as well as an oil refinery and retail and commercial distribution facilities. CNOOC signed an agreement in April to finance the Papua New Guinea government’s stake in the project, but the announcement of that agreement did not mention if a CNOOC stake in the project was included in the deal.