China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC) is considering the sale of its oil and gas assets, worth as much as $3bn in the UK North Sea, as it reviews its international operations, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the development.

China’s offshore oil and gas driller, which is looking to retreat from the ageing basin, has appointed the Bank of America to launch a formal sale process in the next few weeks.

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

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

It also holds a 36.5% stake in the Golden Eagle field, and interests in the Scott, Telford, and Rochelle fields.

The news agency said that the CNOOC’s North Sea assets could attract UK explorers looking to expand their presence in the North Sea, and other Chinese energy majors.

There is no certainty that the Chinese firm would sign a sale deal with a potential firm as deliberations are at an early stage.

The state-controlled Chinese offshore oil and gas firm CNOOC reported a net profit of $11.08bn (CNY70.32bn) for 2021, nearly tripling its earnings compared to 2020, due to higher oil and gas prices.

The firm’s full-year oil and gas output stood at 573 million barrels of oil equivalent (Mboe), an increase of 8.5% compared with the previous year.

This year, CNOOC is aiming to increase its oil and gas output from 600Mboe to 610Mboe.

Last month, MacGregor received a contract to supply two offloading systems for CNOOC’s gas field development.