China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC) has stopped the sale process for its oil and gas assets in the UK North Sea, Bloomberg News reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The move comes as the initial offers received by the firm were below its expectations for the assets, the undisclosed sources told the publication.

The Chinese firm, however, could resume the sale process when conditions improve.

In 2022, Bloomberg News reported that the Chinese firm was considering the sale of its UK North Sea oil and gas assets, as it reviews its international operations and retreats from the ageing basin.

The sale also forms part of the company’s plan to focus on its most profitable assets, as well as new development prospects in Uganda and Guyana, Reuters reported, citing banking and industry sources at that time.

In the UK North Sea, CNOOC owns a 43.2% operatorship stake in one of the UK’s highest-producing fields, Buzzard.

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By GlobalData

The firm also owns a 36.5% stake in the Golden Eagle field, and stakes in the Scott, Telford, and Rochelle fields.

Several major North Sea producers are reviewing their operations in the UK in the wake of the windfall tax imposed by the country on oil and gas producers.

In November 2022, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak increased the Energy Profits Levy (EPL) from 25% to 35% for oil and gas firms. This brings the total taxes to 75% on the oil and gas sector.

Effective until March 2028, the tax is applicable to profits made from oil and gas extraction in the UK.

Recently, Harbour Energy said it will cut its spending plan for 2023 as a result of the UK windfall tax.