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The BusinessOnline: Amerada Hess sells oil assets

By Richard Orange
26 February 2006
US oil company Amerada Hess has put about $300m (E252m, £171.8m) of its North Sea oil assets up for sale, making it the second North American oil company to cut back investment in the North Sea since Chancellor Gordon Brown slapped a 10% extra tax on oil producers in November.
The Business understands that Hess has hired industry consultants Harrison Lovegrove to find a buyer for its stakes in the Scott and the Telford oil fields, 200 km north-east of Aberdeen.
Together the stakes represent about 20m-25m barrels worth of oil. The company has a 20.95% stake in Telford field and a 17.43% stake in Telford.
Brown’s tax hike seems to have given a push to the North Sea’s previously slow-moving asset market. Canadian oil giant Talisman Energy put a package of fields on the market at the end of January.
Royal Dutch Shell in December slashed its oil drilling plans in the North Sea, blaming Brown for the decision.
BP has recently sold its first North Sea field in at least two years, offloading its stake in the Statfjord Field to Japan’s Nippon Oil.
Shell has also launched its biggest North Sea clearout so far. The company has released a data package to potential buyers that covers some 350m barrels of “technical reserves” in the North Sea, with 35 exploration prospects.The entire package is potentially worth billions of dollars, but Shell is thought to intend only to sell a prospect if it receives a compelling offer.
Charles Westwood, of oil and gas intelligence consultancy Hannon and Westwood, said: “I think we’ll see a substantial number of later life assets coming to the market over the next 18 months. It’s a good time to get rid of everything that will come back and bite you when the oil price falls.”
Buyers were also hoping Amerada might throw in its 76.56% stakes in the far smaller Rob Roy and Ivanhoe fields.
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