Dannish shipping giant Maersk and state-owned Dong Energy could create an £8bn oil giant to shore up their defences against low oil prices.
It’s understood the two companies have hired advisers to start work on a possible merger of their oil businesses, which have a large presence in the UK’s North Sea.
Maersk, the world’s biggest shipping company, announced in September that it would sell off its oil business to focus on its core transport operations. Maersk pumps over 600,000 barrels of oil a day.
“We consider suitable options for growth on a case-by-case basis,” Maersk said in a statement.
Analysts estimate Maersk’s oil business could be worth up to £7bn and it is understood the company has hired Bank of America Merrill Lynch to advise on the potential merger.
Dong Energy, which produces about 115,000 barrels a day, said: “We are in the very early stages of the sale process. There will be no sale before the end of the year and it is far too early to speculate over timing or indeed potential buyers.”
The oil price has fallen by more than half over the last two years, playing havoc with oil companies.