Whiting Petroleum Said to Hire Bank to Pursue Potential Sale

Whiting Petroleum Corp., the largest oil producer in the Bakken shale formation, has hired a bank to pursue a possible sale, people familiar with the matter said.

The Denver-based company, which has a market value of $5.7 billion, has reached out to potential buyers including Norway’s Statoil ASA, one of the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.

Whiting, which acquired Kodiak Oil & Gas Corp. for $3.8 billion last year, is searching for a buyer as the price of crude oil has fallen by half since July to about $50 a barrel. The company has been exploring the sale of its oil and gas processing assets in North Dakota, people with knowledge of the matter said last month.

An external spokesman for Whiting and a representative for Statoil declined to comment. Whiting gained 11 percent to $37.71 at the close in New York. The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Whiting was for sale, citing unidentified people.

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