BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP) has announced it is selling its minority stakes in two Australian offshore natural gas fields to PetroChina (NYSE:PTR), the largest of China's three state-owned oil companies.

PetroChina will pay $1.63 billion for an 8.33% stake in the East Browse joint venture project and a 20% stake in the West Browse project, collectively known as Browse LNG. The deal is subject to the standard regulatory approval and is expected to close in the first half of next year.  

This isn't the first time ownership stakes in these two fields have turned over. Just this past August, Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS.A) picked up Chevron's (NYSE:CVX) stake in the project.  The project is operated by Australia's Woodside Energy, and its other JV partners include BP (NYSE:BP) and Japan Australia LNG.

BHP Billiton's chief executive of petroluem, J. Michael Yeager, identified the two stakes as non-strategic assets for the company. China routinely spends billions of dollars acquiring energy assets. Just last week, Canada approved the $15 billion acquisition of Nexen (NYSE: NXY) by CNOOC (OTC:CEO), another state-owned oil operation.


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