SSE buys stake in gas field from BP for £177m

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SCOTTISH Hydro owner SSE has struck a $288 million (£177m) deal to buy BP’s 50 per cent stake in a North Sea gas field.

The Perth-based utility firm said the agreement to buy the interest in the Sean field was evidence of its ambitions to increase its presence in upstream gas production, which will reduce its dependence on wholesale markets to supply customers.

The field, which is operated by Shell, is close to a number of SSE’s existing upstream assets. BP’s current net production from the field is around 18,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day.

The transaction is expected to be completed during the first half of 2013, subject to regulatory approval.

David Franklin, SSE’s managing director of energy portfolio management, said: “We have made clear that SSE is proactively seeking new opportunities to increase our presence in upstream gas sector where assets can be acquired for a fair price, and that is exactly what this deal represents.”

The disposal by BP is the latest in the oil giant’s huge asset divestment progamme.

The company has agreed sales worth around $37 billion as chief executive Bob Dudley looks to shore up the group’s finances to help pay settlements from the Macondo oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Last month BP sold a package of North Sea assets to the state-controlled energy firm of Abu Dhabi. Under the deal, Taqa – which is three-quarters owned by the Abu Dhabi government – is paying more than $1bn for stakes in five BP fields.