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Sinopec Joins the Wild Race for Ghana's Oil

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The plot is thickening as the players don their pads for what ultimately could be a wild and wooly tussle for the rights to buy Dallas-based Kosmos Energy's stake in Ghana's big offshore Jubilee field.

ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM  ) got there first, and a matter of weeks ago it appeared that it had salted a $4 billion deal with Kosmos for the private company's 23.49% interest in Jubilee, which likely holds as much as 1.8 billion barrels of oil. Then in came China's CNOOC (NYSE: CEO  ) which also had designs of its own on the Kosmos stake. CNOOC was being advised by Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS  ) , but is no longer working with the firm, which is evidence that CNOOC is no longer in the picture.

Here's why: Goldman apparently is now advising BP (NYSE: BP  ) , which has entered the fray and may bid for the stake. An advisor cannot coach two teams in the same game. So now BP is in -- to whatever degree -- and CNOOC is out, but the group remains fluid. Witness the latest player to run onto the field, China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. (NYSE: SNP  ) , or Sinopec to its friends.

The Chinese company apparently has made an offer to the Ghanaian government to make a joint bid for the valuable stake. You'll be interested to know that the Chinese company is being advised by Neil Bush, the son and brother of two former U.S. presidents.

And the companies named above don't constitute all of those that have had discussion with the Ghanaian government. You can throw in France's Total (NYSE: TOT  ) as well, and perhaps others by the time you read this piece.

Why is the stake so valuable? It just so happens that Jubilee may lie at the eastern edge of a 700-mile structure that could finish up at the western edge in Sierra Leone. Oil was discovered there recently in nearly 6,000 feet of water by a group that included Anadarko Petroleum (NYSE: APC  ) , and Spain's Repsol, along with the U.K.'s Tullow Oil and Australia's Woodside Oil.

My opinion is that the Kosmos stake will ultimately go to Exxon, with BP a close second. Funny, those just happen to be two of the integrated companies that I believe Fools should place in the most prominent positions on their radar screens.

ExxonMobil is a four-star company to Motley Fools CAPS players, while BP carries five. Why not check on these companies' CAPS pages to learn more?

Total SA is a Motley Fool Income Investor pick. CNOOC is a Motley Fool Global Gains recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Fool contributor David Lee Smith does own a coconut tree in Ghana, but doesn't have financial interests in any of the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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