The company it holds a stake in, Igas, has an interest in a license area which includes chancellor George Osbornes constituency.
Igas is one of the largest holders UK drilling rights alongside fellow unconventional gas explorers Dart, Cuadrilla, Viking and Coal Mine Methane firm Alkane. CNOOC is also linked to Cuadrillas co-owner, AJ Lucas through a Hong-Kong based investment fund.
The ownership of many of the firms proved impossible to verify as the full list of share owners was obscured by large nominee share holdings through financial institutions. One firm, Viking, is owned by an investment division of Barclays.
The latest development comes as the UK’s onshore gas industry enters a period of rapid change – thanks to the prospect of tax breaks and exploratory drilling licenses for unconventional gas.
Whilst global energy giants including BP have suggested that UK shale gas will not be a ‘game changer’, smaller firms – many from Australia, Asia and Canada – and some UK aspiring gas barons have taken an interest in the UKs relatively low-cost exploratory drilling licenses
This means they would be amongst the first to benefit from any profits in the industry.
The UK’s Department Of Energy and Climate change (DECC) has made significant efforts to make all license and block ownership information public and their data, showing ever UK onshore drilling license and its owner, is now available on a Google Map here.