Exploration and production company Ithaca Energy Ltd. is reportedly in the running to buy nonoperated oil and gas assets in the North Sea from U.S. supermajor Exxon Mobil Corp. for as much as $2 billion, The Guardian reported Aug. 13.
Exxon holds operating and nonoperating stakes in about 40 Norwegian fields, including Snorre, which is operated by Equinor ASA, and Ormen Lange, which is operated by Royal Dutch Shell PLC. Exxon's total net production from nonoperated assets in the region was about 170,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2017.
Representatives from Exxon and Ithaca were not immediately available for comment on a possible deal.
With a focus on the North Sea, Ithaca signed a deal with Chevron North Sea Ltd., a unit of Chevron Corp., in May to buy North Sea holdings from the major for $2 billion. Those assets included the Alba, Alder, Britannia, Captain, Elgin/Franklin, Erskine and Jade fields as well as the Britannia platform and its satellites.
Ithaca is owned by Israel-based Delek Group Ltd.
Delek has been working to expand its global operations, entering into a deal in April to buy a 22.45% stake in the Caesar-Tonga project in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico for $965 million from Shell.
Exxon started to divest some noncore assets in Norway in 2017, selling operated interests in the Balder, Jotun Ringhorne and Ringhorne East fields to Point Resources AS. This latest divestiture would further Exxon's plan to sell off $15 billion in assets by 2021.
In the last year, several other U.S. majors have divested or announced plans to sell off aging assets in the North Sea region to focus on production from U.S. shale regions. Smaller producers have been moving in, scooping up what the large companies have deemed noncore assets and infrastructure between the U.K. and Scandinavia in hopes of extracting the remaining reserves from the older assets.
Exxon, which has been floating the potential sale of the Norwegian holdings since June, is also reportedly talking to oil producer DNO ASA and possibly others.
Completing its $780 million acquisition of London-based Faroe Petroleum PLC in March, DNO said at the end of July that the company is looking to do additional M&A activity in the U.K. and Norway with an eye on the Exxon assets since DNO plans to more than double its output from the North Sea by 2021.
Premier Oil PLC, Aker BP ASA, OKEA AS and chemicals company INEOS Group Ltd. are among the other companies that have been interested in acquiring assets in the North Sea.