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Bloomberg: Shell, Exxon to Sell Several North Sea Oil and Gas Prospects

By Stephen Voss

(Bloomberg) — Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Exxon Mobil Corp., the world’s two largest oil companies, are seeking buyers for their stakes in several undeveloped North Sea discoveries, according to a Schlumberger Ltd. oil-services marketing Web site.

Shell, Europe’s largest oil company, plans to sell its stakes in six blocks in the central North Sea, including the Jackdaw, Bligh and Bacchus discoveries, with estimated reserves of about 500 million barrels of oil equivalent, the site said. A data room will be open for prospective buyers from May 29 till July 23, it said.

Shell and Exxon want to sell a jointly owned field, Clipper South, in the southern North Sea, an undeveloped gas field with an estimated 700 billion cubic feet of gas in place, and buyers can apply to view data at Shell’s Aberdeen office until June 29, the marketing Web site said. The main Clipper field won’t be sold.

Major oil companies have been selling aging or small fields in the North Sea to independent explorers over the past few years to concentrate on larger deposits elsewhere, such as the Caspian Sea and West Africa.

Anne Blaydon, a spokeswoman in Aberdeen for The Hague-based Shell, declined to comment. A U.K. spokesman for Irving, Texas- based Exxon didn’t immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Jackdaw, Bligh

BG Group Plc, which operates the Jackdaw prospect, said on Feb. 8 the high-pressure, high-temperature deposit “requires further appraisal.” It may be as big as another deposit, Jasmine, that was one of the largest U.K. discoveries in recent years, BG said.

Shell’s partners in the Bligh prospect include U.K.-based explorers Venture Production Plc and Dana Petroleum Plc, who have both acquired North Sea fields from larger companies in recent years. Dana said April 30 it will work with the others in the venture “to progress development.”

Houston-based Apache Corp. operates the license area that includes the Bacchus discovery.

“We actually found oil in that down-dip well,” Apache Chief Executive Officer Steve Farris said of Bacchus on a Feb. 1 analyst conference call. “Quite frankly, it’s marginal production based on what we think we found, and we’re still assessing whether we ought to go out and drill a well to the west there.”

Previous North Sea divestments by major oil companies include October’s sale by Shell and Exxon of their jointly owned Auk and Fulmar fields to Talisman Energy Inc. In 2005, the Shell-Exxon partnership sold their Schooner and Ketch gas fields to Tullow Oil Plc for about $350 million. The Forties oil field, the most productive in U.K. history, was sold by BP Plc in 2003 to Apache for $630 million.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephen Voss in London at [email protected]

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