OIL major BP is selling its stakes in two North Sea fields for $280 million (£179m) as it picks up the bill for the Gulf of Mexico disaster.
The group said Japanese trading company Mitsui would buy its 13.3 per cent stake in the Alba field and an 8.97 per cent interest in the Britannia field under the cash deal.
BP, which sold $400m of gas fields in the North Sea earlier this year, is off-loading smaller assets to concentrate on six major projects in the UK and Norwegian sections of the North Sea.
The latest deal is part of a $38 billion asset disposal programme which is raising funds to help pay for the ongoing cost of cleaning up the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
BP also sold $1bn worth of US gas assets to Linn Energy on Monday, and in what would amount to a much larger deal, worth an estimated $25bn, it said earlier in June it could sell its stake in its Russian oil joint venture TNK-BP.
Trevor Garlick, regional president for BP North Sea, said: “The divestments are part of our strategy to develop a more focused business in the UK and Norway.
“BP has a multi-billion pound investment programme currently under way in the region, with four major field development projects in the UK and a further two in Norway.”
BP group chief executive Bob Dudley added: “We are pleased to [continue] our global relationship with Mitsui.”
The group said its net production from the two fields averaged some 7,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day. Current production across BP’s North Sea assets amounts to about 200,000 barrels per day and it has more than three billion barrels of proven and “contingent resource” available. It said it expects to invest around $10bn over the next five years in the North Sea.
The news came as energy services outfit Senergy landed a deal with the UK government to look at ways of prolonging the production life of the North Sea.
The three-year project will support the work of the Department for Energy and Climate Change as it seeks to maximise existing oil and gas developments as well as examine ways to access new reserves in technically challenging fields.
Les Coats, Europe general manager for Aberdeen-based Senergy, said: “This is a key piece of work in terms of prolonging the life of the UK North Sea.
“We will be drawing upon a variety of our technical and professional disciplines to meet the remit of the contract and provide a detailed assessment of the challenges and opportunities.”
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