Only in September China will know for sure the size of its equity in the North West Shelf gas project as part of the plan to supply liquefied natural gas worth up to $25 billion.
Chinese government decided to participate in the NWS project as the supplier to its first LNG terminal at Guangdong.
Under the terms of an international tender the Shelf has to begin deliveries of LNG to Guangdong by 2005.
That means initial shipments are likely to be supplied from existing NWS facilities and the fourth production train now being built on the Burrup Peninsula.
The Shelf partners' equity offer to the China National Offshore Oil Co is regarded as crucial as price in the decision to award the contract to supply a minimum of three million tons of LNG a year for 25 years.
CNOOC has been offered a 25 per cent stake in a joint venture that would own some 4.3 trillion cubic feet of Shell gas reserves.
This would be sufficient to guarantee supplies for 25 years, even if CNOOC negotiated to take up five million tons of LNG a year from the Shelf.