LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — French oil company Total SA said Monday it had sold its stake in an offshore oil field near Nigeria for $2.5 billion to the Chinese state-run firm Sinopec Corp., a sign of China’s growing stakes in the West African nation’s oil production.
The field includes Total’s deep-water Usan production operation, which opened earlier this year and has a production capacity of 180,000 barrels a day. Production had been ramping up and is currently at around 130,000 barrels a day, Total spokesman Charles-Etienne Lebatard said.
The Usan facility has a storage capacity of 2 million barrels, the company has said. The field is about 62 miles (100 kilometers) from the West African nation’s southeastern coast.
Total said the sale matched its plans to raise cash for new ventures. In September, the company issued a statement saying it planned to sell $15 billion to $20 billion worth of its assets from now through 2014.
“This sale of an asset operated from a minority position will allow us to focus our resources on the material growth opportunities in Total’s portfolio,” Yves-Louis Darricarrère, president of upstream operations at Total, said in a statement.
Total said the deal, done for cash, must be approved by Nigerian authorities. Officials with Sinopec could not be immediately reached for comment.
The state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. is the concession holder on the field. Other partners include Chevron Corp, Esso E&P Nigeria Ltd. and Nexen Petroleum Nigeria Ltd. Nigeria’s state-run firm also would have final say on the sale. Fidel Pepple, a spokesman for the corporation, said the firm “was working on” a response to the announcement, but declined to immediately comment Monday.
Total is one of several foreign oil companies that operate in Nigeria, a nation that produces more than 2 million barrels of oil a day and remains key to U.S. gasoline supplies. Addax Petroleum, a subsidiary of Sinopec, already pumps crude oil from Nigeria, although it is a relatively small amount compared to other Western companies operating there.
The move by the Chinese comes after the country has increasingly offered loans and assistance to Nigeria. China is increasingly looking across Africa for raw minerals and supplies to fuel a massive economy that has slowed in recent years during the economic downturn. China also has been mentioned as a possible bidder for oil blocks in the country, though experts believe past Nigerian governments only have used the Chinese interest to force Western firms to increase their own bids.
Jon Gambrell reported from Johannesburg and can be reached at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP .
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Two-for-one for Everyone — West Wind Solano Twin Drive-In, Concord, Calif. This family-friendly attraction with several spots across the U.S. (including California, Nevada and Arizona) prides itself on offering first-run double features (save for premiere events) on the cheap — which is quite the deal, considering their 65-foot screens are among the biggest in the biz. And if you have great car speakers, even better: squawk boxes of old have been replaced with Dolby quality audio piped through your car’s FM stereo.
For the Four-legged Friendly — Warwick Drive-In, Warwick, N.Y. Northeast city slickers looking for a place to watch their favorite movie stars under the stars need only veer six miles east of Vernon, N.J. What began as a family affair in 1950 has since become a seasonal institution offering rural and urban (and pet!) audiences two movies for the price of one on any of its three giant screens.
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See Stars Collide — Ford-Wyoming Drive-In, Dearborn, Mich. Open year-round (unlike many of its surviving contemporaries), this five-screen staple of the Midwest known as the “largest drive-in in the world” plays host for up to 3,000 cars on any given night. And if the double-feature doesn’t hold your attention, relax; you’ve got the best (car)seat in the house for the occasional overhead meteor shower.
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A Hole (Lot of Fun) in One — Wellfleet Drive-In, Wellfleet, Mass.Built in 1957 and still offering original mono sound boxes for those looking for an authentic experience (or not, as FM stereo is available as well), the summer-exclusive theater hosts double features of first-runs on its giant 100’ x 44’ screen. Come for the movies, stay for the mini-golf and flea market (on select days).
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Go Big or Drive Home — Bengies Drive-In, Baltimore, Md. The only thing bigger than Bengies’ prolific history (57 years and going) is its main attraction — boasting the biggest theater screen in the U.S. at 6,240 square feet. That’s 52’ x 120’ of pure anamorphic presentation. Complementing its time capsule of a snack bar (unchanged since ’56), previews old and new occupy the venue’s old-timey intermissions between features.
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Proof That Film is Forever — Shankweilers, Orefield, Pa. While we’re on superlative street, consider stopping at this roadside treasure: America’s oldest drive-in. Operating since 1934, it may not have the frills and pony rides of nearby Becky’s Drive-In, but it’s defied hurricanes and the wear and tear of time. Worth the one-hour drive from Philly.
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The Gritty Hollywood Reboot — Corral Drive-In, Guymon, Okla. Like a slasher movie menace that died (several times) in the ’80s only to be rebooted years after, the long-vacant Corral Drive-In was resurrected and restored in 2009, providing big entertainment at a nominal fee. And if the $6 adult admission doesn’t make you feel like a kid again, the venue’s inflatable bouncers most definitely will.
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Hop the Healthy Highway — Delsea Drive-In, Vineland, N.J. Less than an hour’s trip from Atlantic City, New Jersey’s only drive-in offers the best of both worlds — old school aesthetic outfitted with modern tech and healthier food choices to boot. Open seasonally, with first features beginning around dusk.
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Bring Your Backyard to the Big Screen — Starlight Six Drive-In, Atlanta, Ga. As much a backdoor barbecue as it is a night out at the movies, this six-screen Atlanta drive-in encourages what most in the theater biz forbid: bringing your own food and grilling it. Those looking to add a hip twist of the theatrical to their Labor Day getaway need only stock the cooler and pack some brats or burgers for the Starlight’s annual “Drive-Invasion,” which features a hot-rod show, live music, and B-movies galore.
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And really, what better way is there to cruise the nostalgia highway of old Hollywood than in a MINI Roadster? Allowing all the headroom one needs to see the stars on the screen and those directly above, the 2013 convertible goes the distance where it counts — on the road (obviously), not to mention the discerning driver’s wallet. Never mind that its fun-size frame also makes motoring in and out of tight traffic all the more enjoyable (or parking in even tighter spots for cozy romantics all the more convenient).
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