ChevronTexaco, the second-largest U.S. oil company, is considering making a bid for its smaller rival Unocal, The Wall Street Journal reported...

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NEW YORK — ChevronTexaco, the second-largest U.S. oil company, is considering making a bid for its smaller rival Unocal, The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday. Unocal shares jumped more than 11 percent.

The Journal, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter, said ChevronTexaco was in the early stages of its deliberations and said it was unknown whether it would make a formal bid for the ninth-largest U.S. based oil and natural-gas company.

Unocal’s market value was about $14 billion at the close of trading on Wednesday.

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Its shares jumped $6.60, or 12.3 percent, to close at $60.10 yesterday, above their 52-week high of $55.26.

ChevronTexaco shares lost 38 cents to close at $61.19 but are still near their recent 52-week high of $63.15.

Unocal has for years been considered a takeover target, and China National Offshore Oil, a large state-owned company, recently expressed interest in the El Segundo, Calif.-based company.

Other U.S. oil companies are believed to have taken another look at Unocal after news of the Chinese energy company’s interest surfaced, the Journal said.

The Journal said the last round of oil-industry consolidation began in the late 1990s when low oil prices forced companies to seek partners in an attempt to slash overhead and boost production. Within a several-year span, Exxon and Mobil merged, BP bought Amoco, and Chevron and Texaco combined.

Unocal spokesman Barry Lane declined to comment.

“As a matter of policy, we don’t comment on rumors and speculations regarding mergers and acquisitions,” he said.

Don Campbell, a spokesman for San Ramon, Calif.-based ChevronTexaco, declined to comment yesterday.