BP ‘stalks Scots oil minnow for £500m stake in Senegal field’ and sells £300m N. Sea assets to Serica Energy

Global oil giant BP is stalking Edinburgh-based minnow Cairn Energy to take acquire a stake in the Scots’ company’s assets in Africa in a £500 million hostile bid.

According to Reuters, BP wants to acquire a 30 per cent stake in the Senegal offshore oil field that Cairn discovered in 2014.

“We are aware that BP wants to acquire a stake in Cairn Energy, but they are awaiting validation by the state (of Senegal),” an adviser to Senegal’s oil minister, who declined to be named, told Reuters. It also cited unnamed banking sources.

BP acquired interests off Senegal last year from Kosmos Energy. It made a gas discovery off the country in May. The company said then the success confirmed its belief that offshore Senegal and Mauritania is a world-class hydrocarbon basin.

A spokesman for Cairn Energy said there is ‘no substance’ to the claim and BP said it would not comment on speculation.

Meanwhile, BP has sold a package of its interests in the Bruce field in the North Sea to Serica Energy

BP currently operates the assets, which comprise the Bruce, Keith and Rhum fields, three bridge-linked platforms and associated subsea infrastructure. 

Serica will pay BP an upfront payment of £12.8 million, a share of cash flows over the next four years, a consideration equivalent to 30% of BP’s post-tax decommissioning costs and several contingent payments dependent on future asset performance and product prices.

This deal makes Serica the third largest quoted European independent upstream oil and gas company operating in the basin.

Mitch Flegg, newly-appointed chief executive at Serica, commented: “I am also looking forward to working with the highly skilled team that will be transferring to Serica from BP. They will be joining us at a very exciting time for the company. 

“Successful completion of the transaction will establish Serica as a new force in the North Sea and as a robustly financed upstream operator with the experience, expertise, cash flow, breadth of assets and balance sheet to expand organically and to identify and develop new opportunities.”

Overall, BP expects to receive payments of around £300 million, the majority of which will be received over the next four years. 

Bernard Looney, BP Upstream chief executive, Upstream, said: “While the Bruce assets are no longer a core part of our business, we are confident that Serica is the right owner and operator to maximise their continuing value for both companies and for the UK.”

“We remain committed to the North Sea and continue to invest. We expect our production there to double to around 200,000 barrels equivalent a day by 2020 through new projects like Quad 204 and Clair Ridge.”

In a further N. Sea deal, chemicals giant  INESO – now the largest independent oil explorer in predominantly-Scottish basin – has bought a majority stake in two exploration licences the north of Shetland.

It has acquired a 66% stake in the licences from Aberdeen-based Siccar Point Energy.

INEOS spokesman Tom Crotty said: “It is a big shift for us, we entered the North Sea just over two years ago, then had a step-up last year.”

23 Nov 2017

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