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Bidders scramble for Exxon’s U.K. North Sea assets

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Bidders from state-owned companies to private equity-backed firms have been attracted to Exxon Mobil Corp.’s U.K. North Sea assets. This is as the U.S. oil giant seeks to exit the ageing region altogether, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Among the bidders are China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Co. and the U.K.’s EnQuest Plc, the people said, asking not to be identified as the process isn’t public. Exxon started the sale in July following delays caused by the spread of the coronavirus and slumping oil prices.

Tailwind Energy, whose equity partner is commodity trader Mercuria Energy Group, also submitted a bid, as did NEO Energy and Siccar Point Energy Ltd., according to the people. Newcomer Viaro Energy, which recently acquired North Sea company Rockrose Energy Plc, is involved in the process as well, two people said.

According to marketing documents seen by Bloomberg Exxon is offering its stake in 15 fields, which are expected to produce 37,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day net to the company this year. Stakes in pipeline infrastructure, as well as two exploration areas, are also up for grabs.

The sale builds on Exxon’s retreat from Europe as part of a multibillion-dollar global divestment plan and a renewed focus on U.S. operations. The company exited Norway last year, selling its assets to Var Energi AS for $4.5 billion.

Exxon previously said it’s “exploring market interest for a number of assets worldwide, including its interest in non-operated assets in the U.K. central and northern North Sea.” It had no further comment to add for this story.

Sinopec and EnQuest declined to comment, as did NEO Energy and Viaro. Kufpec didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Tailwind Energy and Siccar Point also didn’t respond.

Binding bids are due in October, and the deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2021, the people said.

Source Bloomberg
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