North Sea energy player Neptune emerges

Equity fund investors completed the acquisition of the exploration arm of French utility ENGIE outlined last year.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |  Feb. 16, 2018 at 7:11 AM
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Feb. 16 (UPI) -- North Sea energy player Neptune said it's now a world-class player after acquiring the exploration arm of French energy company ENGIE.

For undisclosed terms, Neptune said it acquired ENGIE Exploration and Production International, which gives it a global footing in basins from the North Sea to North Africa.

Neptune through the transaction takes on assets that produced about 154,000 net barrels of oil equivalent per day last year.

Neptune's oil and gas arm was established three years ago by equity funds Carlyle Group and CVC Capital Partner, and now China Investment Corp., to build up a strong position in the North Sea. The company is led by Sam Laidlaw, the former CEO at British multinational utility company Centrica.

Laidlaw in a statement on what could be a multi-billion dollar acquisition said the deal marks a new beginning for Neptune after three years of work.

"We aim to generate long term sustained value for the countries in which we operate, our employees and for our investors in order to create a leading international independent E&P company within the next five years," he said in a statement.

When announcing plans for the acquisition last year, The Carlyle Group said the acquisition would represent a $3.9 billion grab backed by a group of co-investors. ENGIE's exploration and production business was one of the largest in the North Sea, with proven and probable reserves of 672 million barrels mixed evenly between oil and gas.

Deirdre Michie, the chief executive at trade group Oil & Gas U.K., said the spending effort from Neptune was a testament to the legacy of North Sea operations.

"This transaction highlights that the U.K. oil and gas sector continues to offer smart investors good commercial opportunities on the back of the huge efficiency improvements of recent years," she said in an emailed statement.

One of the major assets for Neptune is the Gjoa field in the Norwegian waters of the North Sea. Production was closed down in June after ENGIE reported a gas leak from the field.

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