ExxonMobil retreats from North Sea with $4.5 billion divestment deal

ExxonMobil has agreed to sell the majority of its Norwegian assets in the North Sea to Vår Energi for US$4.5 billion, after the oil and gas firms entered exclusive talks earlier this month.

The deal is for more than 20 non-operated stakes ExxonMobil holds in fields largely run by Norway’s Equinor, which will add approximately 150,000 barrels per day to Vår’s capacity – making it one of the biggest producers in the North Sea.

Vår, a joint venture between Italian energy giant Eni and HitecVision, plans to grow production from 300,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) in 2019 to 350,000 boepd by 2023 by investing a further $7 billion in the region.

“The transaction delivers a key strategic objective for Vår Energi. The acquired assets complement and strengthen Vår Energi in core areas well known to Management and open up new opportunities for growth,” said Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi.

For ExxonMobil, the deal represents a vote of no confidence in the maturing North Sea basin, as the US oil major shifts its attention to the lucrative shale fields in its domestic market.

“This sale is an important part of our divestment programme, which is on track to meet our $15 billion target by 2021,” said Neil Chapman, senior vice president of ExxonMobil.