Marathon Oil sells its operations in Norway to Det Norske

Marathon Oil logo

The exploration and production company Marathon Oil announced on Monday that it has agreed to sell its North Sea oil business in Norway to the Norwegian company Det Norske Oljeselskap. This is a yet another step towards consolidating Marathon’s interests and focusing more on the profitable U.S. market, at the expense of overseas resources. Since 2011, Marathon has agreed asset sales worth $6.2 billion, including the sale of a $1.5 billion stake in an Angolan oil field last year.

At the same time Marathon took its U.K. North Sea business off the sales block after it failed to attract sufficient interest.

The deal with Det Norske, worth $2.7 billion and expected to close in the fourth quarter, includes the Marathon-operated Alvheim floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel, 10 company-operated licenses, and several non-operated licenses in the Norwegian North Sea. In 2013, the company’s net production in Norway averaged 80,000 boe/d.

Det Norske said the transaction would complement its planned production in the Ivar Aasen and Johan Sverdrup fields in the North Sea and that it would have about 200 million barrels of oil equivalent in proven reserves and probable deposits after the transaction.

The company’s chairman, Sverre Skogen, said that Det Norske has been aiming at creating a strong Norwegian exploration and production company and the new acquisition allowed it to “achieve [its] goal well ahead of schedule.”

Since 2011, when Marathon became the second-largest U.S. independent oil producer behind ConocoPhillips, the company has steered much of its capital toward its U.S. drilling operations.

“The disciplined allocation of capital to opportunities that can deliver long-term growth at higher returns and improved margins is a strategic imperative,” Tillman said.

Marathon’s liquids-rich inventory in the South Texas Eagle Ford Shale, North Dakota’s Bakken Shale and Oklahoma basins has “expanding opportunities to further accelerate activity,” the company’s first priority in allocating more investment capital, Tillman said.

Marathon shares fell 22 cents to 36.44 Monday on the New York Stock Exchange.

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