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Hess Raises Norwegian Field Stakes, Hindering BP Deal

Hess Corp. exercised its right of first refusal to increase its interest in a pair of Norwegian North Sea offshore fields, hindering Total SA’s sale to BP Plc, which is the operator.

The acquisition includes additional stakes in Valhall and Hod for $496 million in cash, New York-based Hess said today in a statement. That brings Hess’s interests to 64.05 percent in Valhall and 62.5 percent in Hod after the company boosted its holdings on those fields by trading all of its interest in Gabon and a stake in the Clair field off of the U.K. coast with Royal Dutch Shell Plc in December.

“We thought it was a good opportunity to bolster our position in a key asset,” Jon Pepper, a spokesman for Hess, said in a telephone interview.

BP will remain the operator of both fields, which are adjacent to each other. Pepper said Hess had “no concerns” about partnering with BP at this time. BP, based in London, is fighting to control its leaking Gulf of Mexico Macondo well, and faces rising costs and litigation associated with that spill.

A voicemail left at BP’s press office wasn’t immediately returned. Phenelope Semavoine, a spokeswoman for Total, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail requesting comment.

Hess fell 17 cents to $56.01 as of 4:01 p.m. in composite trading on the New York Stock Exchange. The stock has dropped 7.4 percent this year.

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