Shell set to sell $3 billion North Sea assets to Chrysaor
By Ron Bousso and Clara Denina
LONDON (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L: Quote) is nearing the sale of a large part of its North Sea oil and gas assets to private equity-backed Chrysaor for $3 billion, banking sources said, marking a milestone in its drive to reduce debt after buying BG Group.
Chrysaor, a North Sea-focused oil company backed by private equity fund EIG Partners, will acquire from Shell a mix of older fields, new developments and infrastructure in a move analysts say could breathe new life into one of the world's oldest offshore basins where production has been in a steady decline since the late 1990s.
The anticipated deal in what is a relatively high-cost region has been seen by the industry as a litmus test for the sector's appetite for buying and selling oil and gas fields, known as upstream, as it slowly emerges from a brutal two-and-a-half year downturn. It could now unlock other deals in the North Sea and other regions.
Shell and Chrysaor declined to comment.
The deal is expected to be announced in the coming days to coincide with Shell's full-year results on Feb. 2, several sources said.
Chrysaor will take charge of hundreds of Shell and former BG employees that work on the platforms.
It will also become operator of several fields, highlighting the changing landscape in the North Sea where oil majors such as Shell and BP (BP.L: Quote) are finding it harder to make profits.
In November, Austrian oil and gas group OMV OMVV.VI agreed to sell its UK unit to private-equity backed Siccar Point Energy for $1 billion. Continued...