OSLO Exxon Mobil (XOM.N) has agreed to sell its operated upstream business in Norway to private equity firm HitecVision and oil company Point Resources for an undisclosed sum, it said on Wednesday.
The deal means that the world's largest listed oil firm will no longer operate producing fields on the Norwegian continental shelf, making it the second oil major to scale back its presence in less than a year after BP (BP.L) in 2016.
Exxon Mobil retains stakes in more than 20 producing fields operated by Statoil (STL.OL) and Shell (RDSa.L) however, including the Snorre oilfield and the major Ormen Lange gas field.
The sale of stakes in the Jotun, Balder and Ringhorne fields, along with some related production assets and properties, had long been rumored in local media.
"It's a natural part of business to assess whether such assets could be worth more to others than they are to us. We'll remain a significant investor in Norway however," Exxon spokesman Tore Revaa said.
The fields sold had daily output of 54,000 barrels of oil equivalents in 2016, while Exxon's remaining Norwegian stakes yielded about 170,000 barrels per day.
Norwegian financial daily Dagens Naeringsliv, citing unnamed sources, said the deal was valued at close to 8 billion Norwegian crowns ($935 million). The companies declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.
Point Resources, which is majority owned by HitecVision, will have output of about 60,000 barrels of oil equivalent following the deal, which could grow to about 80,000 barrels in 2022, it said in a separate statement.
"Given the number of development plans and other opportunities, no redundancies are expected within the combined company as a result of the transaction," it added.
Following the deal, Point's reserves and contingent resources will amount to about 350 million barrels of oil equivalent.
The switch of ownership, which the companies hope to complete in the fourth quarter of 2017, must be approved by the Norwegian government.
Energy Minister Terje Soeviknes said in a statement the deal could bring more diversity and competition to the oil industry.
"The transaction ... is exciting because it makes Point a significant player while Exxon Mobil remains a large producer," he added.
BP last year sold all its Norwegian assets to oil firm Det Norske in exchange for cash and a 30 percent stake in the new company, named Aker BP (AKERBP.OL).
(Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis and Terje Solsvik, editing by Louise Heavens/Ruth Pitchford)