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London — UK-based oil trader Viaro Energy has agreed a takeover deal for North Sea-focused independent RockRose Energy to expand into producing upstream assets, the companies said July 6.

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RockRose, which listed in London in 2016, produced some 19,000 b/d of oil equivalent last year from stakes in a portfolio of the UK and Dutch North Sea assets.

London-based Viaro said it agreed a cash takeover that values Rockrose at around GBP247 million ($308 million).

Viaro, which began trading in 2012, said the acquisition is part of a strategy to create a leading, mid-sized independent oil and gas producer with a long-term production target of "100,000 boe/d and beyond."

"We have ambitious growth plans in the UKCS and we believe that RockRose's producing assets, its staff, its commitment to health and safety, the environment and best in class operational procedures, will be an ideal platform from which to grow our presence in the UKCS," Viaro Energy CEO Francesco Mazzagatti said in a statement.

Based in London, Viaro is an independent company operating in Europe and the Middle East which trades gasoline, middle distillates, petrochemicals, naphtha, fuel oil, and crude oil, according to the company's website.

Project delays

Created in 2015, Rockrose is one of a number of independents that have bought assets in the North Sea and West of Shetland area from legacy producers, helping extend the life of fields and revive production levels.

It bought the assets of Japan's Idemitsu in 2017 and US upstream company Marathon Oil last year.

However, it has suffered a setback with its UK Arran gas and condensate project, which depends on Shell completing a new infrastructure development, now delayed.

RockRose has a 30% stake in Arran, which is expected to produce 100 MMcf/d (3 million cu m/d) of gas at peak, as well as 4,000 b/d of condensate. First gas from Arran -- which is made up of two gas fields previously known as Barbara and Phyllis -- is expected in 2021.

Rockrose also has stakes in West of Shetland area fields, where two oil projects penciled in for future development, Rosebank and Cambo, have been held up. RockRose's main involvement in the area is its 28% stake in Foinaven that it bought from Marathon. The field, operated by BP, was the first West of Shetland oil field to come on stream, in 1997.

"It has been an exciting journey since RockRose was founded five years ago. However, for the benefit of all stakeholders, now is the time to move on and allow RockRose to continue to flourish with new backers," Rockrose CEO Andrew Austin said in the statement.

In March, Rockrose announced it would cut its planned capital expenditure in 2020 by 25% from an originally guided $200 million as oil price slumped due to the coronavirus pandemic.