UPDATE 2-Pioneer Natural to sell shale stake to Sinochem for $1.7 bln

Wed Jan 30, 2013 10:27am EST
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* To sell 40 percent of interest in Texas field

* Sinochem to pay $500 mln in cash, rest in future drilling costs

* Sinochem will acquire about 82,800 net acres of leasehold

* Pioneer shares rise 3 pct

By Swetha Gopinath

Jan 30 (Reuters) - Oil and gas producer Pioneer Natural Resources Co said it would sell a 40 percent stake in about 207,000 net acres in the Wolfcamp shale field in Texas to China's state-run Sinochem Group Co Ltd for $1.7 billion.

The deal is the latest in a string of investments by Chinese companies in North America, which are seeking new energy sources to power the country's booming economy and to gain understanding of emerging drilling methods to tap shale reserves at home.

Shares of Pioneer, valued at about $14.50 billion, rose 3 percent to $121.32 in early morning trade on Wednesday.

Sinochem will pay $500 million in cash and spend $1.2 billion to fund a portion of Pioneer's future drilling costs.   Continued...