Shell, Exxon Sell North Sea Field to ONE After Oil-Price Rout

Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Exxon Mobil Corp. have sold their stakes in the Sean field to Oranje-Nassau Energie BV for an undisclosed sum as drillers seek to offload aging North Sea assets.

Shell and Exxon each sold a 25 percent stake in the gas field to Amsterdam-based ONE, the companies said. The deal -- still subject to partner and regulatory approvals -- will likely be completed in the first half of 2015, Shell said in an e-mailed statement.

“Sean has entered a phase where it offers greater value to other companies than it does for Shell,” The Hague-based company said. “The deal shows that Shell is delivering its strategy to focus on areas where the company can add value in the U.K. Continental Shelf.”

The collapse in oil prices since June has added to pressure on drillers to sell aging North Sea wells. The U.K. government announced measures to aid investment in the area in December including reducing a tax on producers and adding incentives to carry out seismic surveys in under-explored areas. U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne will probably announce further steps in March during his last budget speech before May’s general election.

“The North Sea for us is a known region and that makes it interesting for us to further grow,” ONE Chief Financial Officer Chris De Ruyter said by telephone. The company is open to other acquisitions in the area, he said.

Shell may close its Draugen oil field in the Norwegian Sea a decade earlier than in a prior assessment of the area’s potential lifespan because of rising costs and the slump in oil prices. Two other fields in the area -- Nelson and Anasuria -- are still up for sale, the company said.

Shell, Europe’s biggest oil company, said today that it will cut spending by $15 billion over the next three years. Its fourth-quarter profit missed estimates because of the plunge in crude.

Exxon, based in Irving, Texas, is due to report earnings on Feb. 2.

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