Petronas, BASF divest interests in gas and oil assets across continents

German chemical maker BASF is selling its US$375 million in oil and gas assets in the North Sea to MOL Hungarian Oil & Gas to focus on its own exploration and production efforts. Meanwhile, Malaysia’s petrochemical firm Petronas is selling a 3% stake in its Canadian shale gas assets to Petroleum Brunei for an undisclosed sum. The latter becomes the second firm to share development costs and take up liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the US$35 billion project.

In BASF’s case, MOL Hungarian Oil & Gas will acquire 14 licenses on the UK continental shelf from BASF’s oil-and-gas unit Wintershall. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2014 and will be financially retroactive to 1 January 2013.

The sale follows asset swaps with Russia’s OAO Gazprom (GAZP) and Norway’s Statoil ASA (STL) last year, where BASF gained stakes in Siberian and North Sea fields that it will operate. The deal with MOL includes an agreement to jointly pursue exploration and production opportunities in the Middle East region. MOL Group, based in Budapest, will acquire 29% in Broom field, 20% in Catcher, 33.5% in Cladhan and 50% in the Scolty/Crathes developments. Wintershall’s equity share in existing infrastructure on the Sullom Voe Terminal and the Brent Pipeline System are also part of the deal.

Meanwhile, Malaysia’s state-owned firm Petronas is divesting its 3% equity for a minimum of 20 years in the natural gas assets of Progress Energy Canada and the Pacific Northwest LNG facility with a total capacity of 12 million tonnes/year.

Petroleum Brunei's deal comes after Japan Petroleum Exploration bought a 10% stake in the integrated shale gas development and LNG project early this year for an undisclosed sum. Petronas plans to cut its stake in the project to 50% in order to share out the risks and financial burdens and has also been in discussions with state-owned energy firms in China and India to buy into the development, with long-term contracts to buy LNG so that the interests are aligned accordingly.

Petronas took over Progress Energy in 2012 in order to jump on the shale gas bandwagon. It is setting up a C$11 billion facility on the coast of British Columbia to export LNG to energy-hungry Asia.


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