Royal Dutch Shell Plc, looking to pare debt swollen by last year's acquisition of BG Group Plc, accelerated its drive to shed assets on Tuesday by agreeing to the sale of fields in Thailand and the North Sea for as much as $4.7 billion.
On completion of the North Sea deal, about 400 staff will transfer to Chrysaor, "subject to a detailed scoping exercise and staff consultation", Shell said.
Shell and rival majors like BP have struggled to turn a profit there but buyer Chrysaor, a United Kingdom company which is backed by U.S. private-equity house EIG Partners, claims to specialise in the "commercialisation of dormant oil and gas discoveries" and will hope to turn that around.
In return, Shell will secure an initial payment of USD3.00 billion, a further USD600 million between 2018 and 2021, with potential for a further USD180 million to be paid dependent on future discoveries, Shell said.
The oil giant' s interests in Buzzard, Beryl, Bressay, Elgin-Franklin, J-Block, the Greater Armada cluster, Everest, Lomond and Erskine, plus a 10% stake in Schiehallion, will all be offloaded as part of the deal.
These assets, combined with our own experience and the outstanding team who will transfer from Shell, provide an excellent platform for change and growth in the North Sea.
The deal is subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to close in the second half of 2017. In 2016, Shell's net production from those assets was around 115,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.
The North Sea was once one of the world's premier reservoirs of crude oil, but many of its fields have been drained all but dry. Following the deal, Shell will retain a fixed liability of USD1.00 billion, with Chrysaor assuming the rest. "We believe this deal is a vote of confidence in the UK North Sea and offers proof that the industry's increasing competitiveness".
"It is a further demonstration that the North Sea is open for business".
The transaction is expected to comprise around 350 million barrels of oil equivalent proven and probable (2P) reserves as at the transaction effective date of 1 July 2016.
Bernard Looney, chief executive of BP Upstream, added: "As BP continues to focus its North Sea portfolio around assets where we can add new capacity through disciplined investment in major projects, it is essential to partner with experienced operators like EnQuest to extend the life of existing mature assets like Magnus and Sullom Voe for the benefit of both companies and the region as a whole". Chrysaor intends to grow the assets being acquired, and has identified a number of early incremental opportunities to maximise economic recovery and extend field life. Importantly, the value here represents a profit against the book values of the assets, and a breakeven oil price above that for the BG acquisition."Chrysaor was set up in 2007, but has not yet operated any producing assets".
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