Tullow snaps up Norway oil firm but shares sink

BLUE CHIP explorer Tullow Oil plummeted more than eight per cent in trading yesterday as it announced it is to acquire Spring Energy Norway for up to $672m (£417m).

Spring, a Norwegian oil exploration company, holds 28 offshore licences in the North, Norwegian and Barents Sea covering more than 18,000 square kilometres. Since 2008, it has made six commercial discoveries out of 12 wells drilled.

The London-listed oil firm will pay $372.3m for Spring, plus a bonus payment of up to $300m conditional upon exploration success.

Tullow also said yesterday that it intends to divest its gas assets in the UK and Dutch Southern North Sea – which produce around 18,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day – by the end of next year. It marks a strategic move by Tullow to focus on oil rather than gas.

Aidan Heavey, chief executive of Tullow, said yesterday that the reshuffle was designed to refocus the business towards “high potential oil exploration”.

In a separate statement, Tullow said that a well it drilled off the coast of Ghana had disappointed by not finding oil in its main target, which contributed to the downward spiral of its shares yesterday.

Meanwhile, chairman Simon Thompson beefed up his holding in Tullow Oil yesterday, purchasing an additional 4,000 shares to take his total holding to 14,360.

ADVISERS JEFFERIES

JEFFERIES

Investment bank Jefferies was appointed to advise Tullow Oil on the planned disposal of the UK and Dutch gas assets, which is designed to streamline the company’s portfolio.

Jefferies, whose operations focus on the US, Europe and Asia, has worked on several high-profile oil and gas deals recently.

In November, the investment bank acted as financial adviser to oil behemoth BP on the sale of a number of its central North Sea oil and gas fields to Abu Dhabi national energy firm TAQA. Jefferies’ oil and gas team also worked with BP in June of this year, when it advised the oil giant on its deal to sell its minority stakes in two North Sea fields to Japanese trading company Mitsui.

It also had a role advising Williams Partners on its $2.5bn (£1.6bn) acquisition of Caiman Eastern Midstream in March.

Jefferies has been in business for nearly 50 years and operates in 30 cities around the world. As well as M&A it works on corporate restructuring, private placements and high yield, convertible debt and equity placement.

In February, Tullow Oil appointed Morgan Stanley and Barclays Capital as joint corporate brokers in place of BAML and Hoare Govett.