Marathon Oil to Sell North Sea Assets; Increases Buyback

Marathon Oil Corp. (MRO), the U.S. explorer that’s disposed of almost $3.5 billion of assets in the past three years, offered its North Sea holdings for sale.

The company will divest sites off Britain and Norway, where liquid-hydrocarbon sales volumes accounted for 25 percent of the total in the third quarter, according to a presentation that reviewed all of its projects except Libyan ventures.

Marathon has operated in the U.K. for more than 20 years and its assets include the Brae Complex and the Foinaven field, its website shows. The company operated 10 licenses on Norway’s continental shelf at the end of 2012 and the country represented 46 percent of its non-U.S. liquid-hydrocarbon sales last year.

Marathon is accelerating drilling in the “highest-value” domestic resource plays such as the Eagle Ford, Bakken and Oklahoma Woodford areas, Chief Executive Officer Lee Tillman said in a statement. Asset sales to date have exceeded the company’s $1.5 billion to $3 billion target, he said.

More than 60 percent of Marathon’s $5.9 billion budget for 2014 will be directed toward liquids-rich North American assets, it said.

The company also said it’s expanding its share-repurchase authorization. It will seek to buy back as much as $2.5 billion in stock, compared with the $1 billion planned in September.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephen Cunningham in New York at scunningha10@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tina Davis at tinadavis@bloomberg.net

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