A couple of interesting events the last few weeks from the established oil basins of the North Sea.
It appears that a number of high-profile E&Ps are moving out of the mature fields here.
U.S. oil major Marathon said last week that it is beginning the process to sell its North Sea holdings. A significant portfolio that’s expected to go for $3 billion.
Elsewhere in the basin, stalwart European producer Wintershall (a subsidiary of chemical maker BASF) said it is also down-sizing its North Sea assets. Selling $375 million in properties to Hungarian energy firm MOL Group.
It’s always interesting when big companies start exiting a producing area like this. Mainly because it can spell significant opportunity for small players.
A similar thing has been happening of late in the U.S. shallow water Gulf of Mexico. Where companies like Apache and ExxonMobil have been selling off big acreage positions to junior producers.
That’s opened up one of the most exciting oil plays of recent memory. The revitalization of old oil pools here using unconventional drilling technology. A practice that’s yielding great results–and will be a big story over the next few years.
The recent events in the North Sea might suggest a similar opportunity here. A big project package like Marathon’s could be perfect for an enterprising, well-funded junior. The kind of nimble company capable of applying new techniques and thinking to these older pools.
With so much attention from major E&Ps focused on the U.S. unconventional drilling today, there will likely be more divestitures coming from big companies in basins abroad. We’ll see which firms step up to fill the void–and what approach they take to these plays.
Here’s to out with the old and in with the new,
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