LONDON -- Statoil is set to strengthen its position as operator of the proposed Mariner heavy oil field development in the UK central North Sea.
The company has agreed to acquire 20.67% of Nautical Petroleum’s interest in the surrounding license P335, block 9/11a, lifting its equity share to 65.1%, with Nautical retaining a 6% interest.
Statoil will pay Nautical $137 million for this interest, plus a carry of Nautical’s costs of up to $4.7 million through to the final investment decision. The company says the transaction, along with its 81.6% share of the nearby Bressay heavy oil field, will give it a more aligned equity interest in the region.
Since Statoil assumed operatorship of both fields from Chevron in late 2007, its aim has been to develop a production hub in a prolific heavy oil area. It has drilled and tested one successful appraisal well at Bressay and performed two seismic surveys at Mariner, which confirmed material volumes in the area.
The two fields will be developed individually, with an investment decision expected in both cases over the next two years.
Statoil’s other UK interests comprise oil and gas production in three fields – Alba, Schiehallion and Jupiter – and equity in several exploration licences including the Rosebank, Tobermory, Amos, and Suilven discoveries west of Shetland.
Nautical’s share of the Mariner license dates back to its acquisition in 2005 of Alba Resources.
It plans to deploy funds generated from the sale to support the planned Kraken and Catcher oilfield developments in the UK sector, and to accelerate its other exploration and appraisal opportunities.