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Shell and Exxon to sell £390m gas fields in North Sea exit

Offshore oil and gas platform on production site
Clipper and Leman Alpha are major gas sites owned by Shell and ExxonMobil since the mid 60s - Igors Aleksejevs/iStockphoto

Shell and ExxonMobil are nearing a $500m (£390m) deal to offload two gas sites in the North Sea amid the companies’ ongoing retreat from the UK’s oil basin.

The duo are putting the finishing touches to a deal to sell the Clipper and Leman Alpha installations in the southern region of the North Sea to UK-based start-up Viaro Energy.

Clipper and Leman Alpha are major gas sites and have been owned by Shell and ExxonMobil via a joint venture since the mid-1960s.

They have called time on their ownership amid a broader pivot away from the North Sea by large oil groups.

The deal has nearly been agreed but could still fall apart, Reuters reported.

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ExxonMobil sold the bulk of its North Sea assets to private equity-backed Neo Energy in 2021 but retained a 50pc stake in the Clipper and Leman fields.

A sale would mark the end of ExxonMobil’s involvement in the North Sea after nearly 60 years.

The retreat comes days after US oil major Chevron also announced it was quitting the North Sea after 55 years.

The group, the world’s third-largest oil company, said it was leaving the region after a review of its global operations. It plans to sell investments in a string of North Sea assets, which will likely fetch between $800m and $1bn.

The Telegraph reported last week that the North Sea oil industry faces an uncertain future because of the General Election, with Labour planning to increase a windfall levy on profits made by oil and gas companies introduced by the Conservatives in 2022.

Production in the North Sea has been in steady decline for the past two decades as oil majors choose to invest in more lucrative assets around the world.

However, this has opened up opportunities for smaller players to enter the market such as Viaro Energy.

Founded in London in 2012 by chief executive Francesco Mazzagatti, the firm was established with its primary mandate to invest in the North Sea.

The group’s first major move was the acquisition of RockRose Energy in 2020, which gave it a foothold in the region.

Wood Group, an Aberdeen-based oil and gas consultancy, also said on Tuesday it had received a fresh takeover bid from Dubai-based rival Sidara.

The offer of 230p is the fourth and final proposal by Sidara after the prior three were knocked back by Wood’s board for undervaluing the group.

Wood said it would study the new offer.

Shell, ExxonMobil and Viaro declined to comment.