All the world's oil and gas players continue to look to North America to expand their production portfolios. China's deep need for energy is ramping up acquisitions and joint venture projects in the U.S. and Canada. Sinopec's (NYSE: SHI) recent deal with Devon Energy (NYSE: DVN) highlights this trend.

The deal
Variety is the spice of life, and that's exactly what Sinopec is getting in this deal. The Chinese company agreed to pay $2.2 billion for a one-third interest in five different shale plays: the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale, the Niobrara, the Mississippian, the Utica, and the Michigan Basin.

Sinopec will pay $900 million up front, the $1.6 billion balance paid as drilling carry by 2014. Devon will remain the operator; the companies expect to drill 125 wells across the five plays by the end of this year.

Other recent deals
This is the second recent $2 billion deal for Sinopec. The company completed a $2.16 billion buyout of Canadian exploration and production outfit Daylight Energy at the end of last month. The Chinese company picked up assets in 69 oil and gas fields in northwestern Alberta and northeastern British Columbia in the deal.

Sinopec has been active all over the globe, developing a stake in Australia's coal-bed methane LNG export project. The company is expected to begin taking deliveries from that ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) joint venture in 2015.

Sinopec has been willing to spend liberally to acquire foreign assets, paying $7.1 billion for a joint venture with Repsol in Brazil, and acquiring all of Occidental Petroleum's Argentine assets for $2.5 billion.

It's not just Sinopec, either
China's largest producer of offshore crude oil and natural gas, CNOOC (NYSE: CEO) has also been busy. The company recently made a $2.1 billion acquisition of its own, picking up Canadian oil sands operator OPTI Canada. It also plunked down over $1 billion last year in a U.S. joint venture with Chesapeake Energy.

After a $7 billion dollar deal with BP (NYSE: BP) collapsed earlier this year, CNOOC is still on the hunt for foreign assets.

Foolish takeaway
Technological advances have unlocked global oil and gas supplies, which means the industry is rife with mergers, acquisitions, and joint ventures right now. It can be difficult to stay on top of all the activity, but utilizing free Internet tools like Twitter and My Watchlist can help keep you up to speed on industry updates and analysis.

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