North Sea change of guard as big oil sells to new private-equity players

The oil-focused portfolio includes Total-operated fields. (AFP)
Updated 11 July 2019
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North Sea change of guard as big oil sells to new private-equity players

  • Total’s overall production in Britain was 185,000 boed last year, according to its website, with gas accounting for more than half

Omani oil group Petrogas and private equity fund HitecVision have teamed up to buy a portfolio of Total’s British North Sea oilfields for $635 million, the companies said on Wednesday.
The fields, which are set to produce 25,000 barrels of oil equivalent (boed) this year, will be owned by a subsidiary of the two groups called Petrogas NEO UK which they want to expand to produce more than 100,000 boed with two to three years.
The British North Sea has seen a change of guard since the oil price collapsed to below $30 a barrel in 2016 with big companies selling fields to new private-equity backed operators seeking to squeeze more barrels out of the mature basin and then exit.
HitecVision, an offshore energy-focused fund with $5.5 billion under management, last December partnered with Eni to build Var Energi, now one of Norway’s largest producers at 169,000 boed. It has already paid out $1 billion in dividends just to HitecVision shareholders in Var. HitecVision plans to turn Petrogas NEO — controlled equally by the two partners — into a UK version of Var.

HIGHLIGHTS

● Portfolio to sell for $635m, effective Jan. 2019.

● New vehicle Petrogas NEO to produce 25,000 boed.

● Owners aim to increase Petrogas NEO output to 100,000 boed.

“The current acquisition is the first step ... and provides a fundament for further expansion through organic and in-organic activities,” Petrogas NEO’s owners said in a statement.
Asked about a stock market listing of the new vehicle, HitecVision senior partner John Knight said there were many possible exits for a private equity firm. These include mergers, dividend payouts and sales to financial investors, he said, adding HitecVision was looking at opportunities for consolidation within its portfolio.
Hitecvision also owns Verus Petroleum which produces around 17,000 boed.
Wednesday’s deal is backdated to Jan. 1 this year and expected to close in the fourth quarter, pending regulatory approval.
The oil-focused portfolio includes Total-operated fields Dumbarton, Balloch, Lochranza, Drumtochty, Flyndre, Affleck, Cawdor and minority stakes in CNOOC-operated Golden Eagle, Scott and Telford, the buyers said.
Several fields can be developed further to squeeze as many barrels as possible from the portfolio.
Total’s overall production in Britain was 185,000 boed last year, according to its website, with gas accounting for more than half.


Libya’s NOC confirms 290,000 bpd production at Sharara offline

Updated 44 min 30 sec ago
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Libya’s NOC confirms 290,000 bpd production at Sharara offline

  • NOC said it was conducting a full-scale investigation into suspected closed valves in the Hamada area
  • It also said in a statement that production from El Feel oilfield was unaffected by the incident

LONDON: Libya’s National Oil Corporation confirmed on Saturday that production at its 290,000 barrels per day El Sharara oilfield was currently offline.
NOC said it was conducting a full-scale investigation into suspected closed valves in the Hamada area.
It also said in a statement that production from El Feel oilfield was unaffected by the incident.
Sources earlier told Reuters that production at El Sharara had halted on Friday due to a valve closure on the pipeline linking the field to Zawiya.