Sunday 25 August 2019

After 50 years in the North Sea, Exxon eyes the exit, valued at $2bn

Most of Exxon's operations are managed through a 50-50 joint venture with Royal Dutch Shell, and include interests in nearly 40 oil and gas fields. Photo: Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters
Most of Exxon's operations are managed through a 50-50 joint venture with Royal Dutch Shell, and include interests in nearly 40 oil and gas fields. Photo: Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters

Ron Bousso

Exxon Mobil is considering a sale of its assets in the British North Sea after more than 50 years in the oil and gas basin as it focuses on US shale production and new projects.

The world's largest publicly traded energy company has held talks with a number of North Sea operators in recent weeks to gauge interest in some or all of its assets, which could fetch up to $2bn (€1.78bn), according to industry sources. Exxon declined to comment.

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Leaving the British North Sea would mark a major retreat from Europe for the Irving, Texas-headquartered Exxon, which has already put its Norwegian offshore assets on the block.

It would follow similar moves by US rivals Chevron and ConocoPhillips which earlier this year sold the bulk of their North Sea operations.

Most of Exxon's operations are managed through a 50-50 joint venture with Royal Dutch Shell, and include interests in nearly 40 oil and gas fields.

Shell also declined to comment.

Exxon produces around 80,000 barrels of oil and 441 million cubic feet of gas a day in the British North Sea, according to its website.

Potential buyers could include large private equity-backed North Sea producers such as Chrysaor or Neptune which have acquired portfolios from veteran producers in recent years.

Assigning a value to oil and gas assets in the North Sea is complicated because many fields and infrastructure are nearing the end of their lives and require dismantling, or decommissioning, an expensive process which can offset years of production revenue.

Neivan Boroujerdi, North Sea analyst at consultancy Wood Mackenzie, said an Exxon exit was expected, valuing it at around $2 billion.

Should the direct discussions with potential buyers not yield a result, Exxon will consider appointing an external bank to run a formal sale process, sources added.

It was unclear if a sale of assets would require breaking up the Esso joint venture.

Reuters

Irish Independent

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