August 8, 2019 / 12:57 PM / 10 days ago

Exxon hires Jefferies to accelerate Norwegian asset sales

LONDON, Aug 8 (Reuters) - U.S. oil major Exxon Mobil has hired investment bank Jefferies to sell the stakes it holds in oil and gas fields off the Norwegian coast, which could fetch up to $4 billion, banking sources said.

Exxon said in June that it was looking to test market interest for its Norwegian upstream portfolio, which includes minority stakes in more than 20 other fields, operated by local producer Equinor and Anglo-Dutch oil major Royal Dutch Shell.

The bank has now instructed Jefferies to help with the process, three sources said, to accelerate its exit from the northern European country where it has been operating for more than 125 years.

Interested parties are expected to receive a presentation of the available assets later in August, one of the sources said.

Exxon and Jefferies declined to comment.

A number of private equity-backed firms, including Okea, and independent oil companies Aker BP and DNO, have said they were looking to buy more assets on the Norwegian continental shelf.

Var Energi, jointly owned by Italy’s Eni and Norwegian private equity fund HitecVision, is likely to show an interest, having previously bought Norwegian assets from Exxon in 2017, a second source said.

The North Sea offshore basin, which started production in the 1970s, has undergone a broad change of guard in recent years as veteran producers have been replaced by smaller players that say they can squeeze more oil and gas from the fields.

U.S. major Chevron transferred its last stake in a Norwegian offshore licence last year, while ConocoPhillips still operates Ekofisk, the first big oil discovery off Norway.

In 2017 Exxon Mobil’s net production from fields off Norway was about 168,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day. Its total net reserves in the producing fields stood at 422 million barrels of oil equivalent by the end of 2018.

Additional reporting by Nerijius Adomaitis in Oslo Editing by David Goodman

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