BP to offload North Sea rig

Steve Dinneen
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BP is set to continue the trend of oil and gas firms exiting North Sea assets with the sale of its minority stake in the Shearwater field.

Sources close to the deal told City A.M. the 27.5 per cent stake in the Shell-run gas field could net BP more than £150m. GDF Suez is also understood to have put its stake in the West Franklin field on the market.

Norwegian energy giant Statoil halted $10bn (£6.2bn) worth of projects following the surprise Budget-day announcement by George Osborne of a 12 per cent tax hike on the profits of companies operating in the region. It later resumed preparatory work, saying it will make a final decision next year.

Japanese trading conglomerate Marubeni Corporation also put up for sale all but one of its North Sea oilfields in June, adding to a list that includes ExxonMobil and Chevron.

Many oil and gas firms are keen to offload their mature assets while the price of oil is high but have been set back by the March tax levy.

Last month the Treasury performed a partial U-turn, saying it will raise the annual rate of Ring Fence Expenditure Supplement from six to 10 per cent to support firms working in less profitable fields.