By Robert Sullivan - Exclusive to Gas Investing NewsSinopec's (NYSE: SNP) deal to acquire Daylight Energy Ltd. (TSX: DAY) for $2.2 billion last week could mark the beginnings of a renewed push by Chinese companies into Canada's natural gas sector, energy analysts believe. The deal, agreed to on October 9, will see Sinopec acquire Calgary-based Daylight for $10.08 per share, more than double the closing price of $4.59 on October 7. Daylight shares immediately jumped to $9.70 when financial markets opened the following Monday, and have since held steady around that mark. Despite Sinopec's acquisition of Daylight falling on the smaller side of recent energy deals, the Chinese company is forking over the largest takeover premium seen in the industry since 2005 - Sinopec's offer was 70 percent higher than Daylight's average share price over the past 20 days. What's more, Sinopec will also take over $800 million in debt, bringing the total value of the deal closer to $3 billion. The collapse of a $5.5 billion deal between Petrochina (NYSE: PTR) and Encana Corp. (TSX: ECA) in June had previously cast doubt on China's commitment to buying in to gas assets in Canada, but last week's swoop by Sinopec for Daylight at such a premium has now renewed speculation among energy analysts that Chinese firms may be poised for a shopping spree in Canada's natural gas sector. Chinese energy firms in a buying mood The timing of Sinopec's move, in the wake of a 43 percent drop in Daylight's stock over the last quarter, is no coincidence. While most Western firms are scaling back operations and trimming budgets as the US and EU teeter on the brink of a double-dip recession, analysts point out that Chinese companies, flush with cash, are looking to buy - even at a steep premium.