UAE buys into BP's UK fields as relations improve

Wed Nov 28, 2012 7:11am EST
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By Stanley Carvalho

ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Abu Dhabi National Energy Co (TAQA) TAQA.AD will buy a number of BP's (BP.L: Quote) North Sea assets for over $1.3 billion in a sign relations between Britain and the Gulf emirate are on the mend.

The deal comes weeks after a visit by Prime Minister David Cameron to the emirate amid reports BP was set to lose its major role in the oil sector of the United Arab Emirates because of strained relations between the two countries.

The sale suggests BP could still win back its positions in the UAE, where the oil giant played a big role from the start of the oil industry in the early 1930s.

For TAQA, the deal is important as it boosts access to North Sea production, home to the global oil benchmark Brent. Companies gain valuable insight into oil pricing patterns when they operate in North Sea fields.

"This is a vote of confidence in the UK economy and once again, highlights the North Sea's position as a global energy hub," Cameron was quoted in a TAQA statement as saying.

TAQA said the deal followed a constructive dialogue between the oil and gas industry and the U.K. Treasury, resulting in changes to the tax treatment of North Sea assets.

TAQA, owned 75 percent by the Abu Dhabi government, is the largest investor from the United Arab Emirates in Britain, having invested over $3 billion in four years.

BP, which needs cash for repayments as part of the settlement for its U.S. Macondo oil spill, said the TAQA deal brings its asset divestment program close to the targeted $38 billion as it has now entered into deals to sell assets worth around $37 billion.   Continued...

A BP logo is seen on a petrol station in London February 1, 2011. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth