Santos has received a $13.5 billion takeover offer from US firm Harbour Energy.

In a statement to the ASX, Santos said it is interested.

“Based on the indicative offer price of $6.50 per share, it is in the interests of shareholders to engage further with Harbour,” it said.

But shareholders have been told to take no further action until more steps have been taken to assess the bid.

It is the third offer Harbour has made for Santos since August last year.

Analyst Ben Wilson said Santos’ board will struggle to turn down the bid, even though any deal would be subject to Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) scrutiny.

“While this would be a complication, we do not foresee major issues providing the acquiring entity is sufficiently well funded and experienced and will continue to invest in the east coast energy development,” Mr Wilson said in a note to clients.

“The Federal Government has shown its willingness to enact legislation to limit gas exports should it be required, hence it has the regulatory powers to intervene if appropriate rather than rejecting foreign ownership of gas infrastructure.”