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Shell and Exxon Flee North Sea Like It’s on Fire, Sell Assets to Viaro Energy

Posted by John Donovan: 30 May 2024

Shell and Exxon Mobil, the twin titans of oil pollution, are almost ready to dump their UK North Sea gas fields onto Viaro Energy for a measly $500 million (£395 million), according to those ever-reliable “sources” from Reuters.

In their desperate scramble to focus on more lucrative ventures (because who needs history or responsibility?), these oil behemoths are packing up from the ageing North Sea basin. This fire sale includes the Clipper and Leman Alpha field clusters, signalling the end of the long-standing Esso joint venture between Shell and Exxon, which dates back to 1965. RIP, corporate nostalgia.

For Exxon, this sale is the final nail in their North Sea coffin, marking the end of their involvement in the region since 1964. Like the savvy capitalists they are, they had already offloaded most of their central and northern North Sea assets to Neo Energy in 2021.

Despite the paperwork not being completely signed, sealed, and delivered, it’s clear that Shell, Exxon, and Viaro Energy are all keeping their lips tightly zipped about the potential deal. Because why inform the public about significant industry changes, right?

Viaro Energy, a British independent producer, has been busy gobbling up North Sea assets since it acquired RockRose Energy in 2020. Producing around 30,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, they now hold interests in over 30 fields. Ambitious much?

But don’t worry, Shell’s not totally bailing on the North Sea. They still have their fingers in multiple pies, including the Penguins redevelopment and a stake in the BP-operated Clair field. Chevron also plans to exit the stage left from its remaining UK North Sea assets, ending over fifty years of presence.

All this is happening while the UK’s oil and gas production has plummeted from its late ’90s peak of about 4.5 million barrels of oil equivalent per day to 1.2 million barrels in 2023.

So, there you have it: the giants of greed and pollution are selling off their old playground to chase bigger, shinier profits elsewhere. Because why stick around and clean up your mess when you can make more money screwing up new places?

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