BP to sign exploration deal with Chinese company: report

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British oil giant BP is set to sign a major exploration deal with China's biggest offshore oil and gas producer when Prime Minister David Cameron visits Beijing next week, a report on Saturday said.

Sky News said BP was hoping to conclude an agreement with state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) to explore an area of the South China Sea, where the two companies have already worked together.

A BP spokesman refused to comment on the report.

Cameron, accompanied by four of his top ministers, starts a two-day visit to China on Tuesday during which he will meet President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao for talks which are expected to focus partly on energy issues.

BP is seeking to rebuild its international reputation after the disastrous oil spill from a well it operated in the Gulf of Mexico.

The company said this month the spill will cost it 40 billion dollars (28.5 billion euros), after ramping up its estimate by almost a quarter.

© 2010 AFP

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