* Austrian firm seeks to sell 30 pct stake in project
* Stake estimated to fetch up to $500 million
By Ron Bousso
LONDON, July 29 (Reuters) - Austrian oil and gas company OMV has put up for sale a 30 percent stake in the Rosebank oil and gas project in the British North Sea, banking sources said, as it trims its budget in the face of lower oil prices.
The sale process of the asset stake located west of Shetland is being run by Barclays and could fetch as much as $500 million, the sources added.
OMV currently owns a 50 percent stake in Rosebank, one of the company’s major exploration projects which is operated by U.S. oil major Chevron.
Chevron holds a 40 percent share of the project while Denmark’s Dong Energy holds the remaining 10 percent.
OMV and Chevron declined to comment. Barclays did not respond to requests for comment.
The halving of oil prices over the past year has forced oil and gas companies to slash spending and scrap and delay around $200 billion in deepwater oil projects and huge gas plants so far this year.
OMV in 2013 increased its stake in Rosebank to 50 percent as part of its $2.65 billion acquisition of Statoil assets aimed at increasing its focus on exploration and production and to make up for output losses in volatile countries such as Libya or Yemen.
The Austrian company had put Rosebank’s estimated peak production at 50,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day and had previously estimated the costs of developing Rosebank to reach $10 billion. [ID: nL6N0QI2WI]
OMV’s exploration chief said in May that the process to reduce OMV’s stake in Rosebank had started.
OMV’s exploration chief Jaap Huijskes has said OMV wants to reduce its stake in Rosebank by around 10-20 percent.
Chevron is currently reviewing the economics and engineering of the project, whose final investment decision (FID) is not expected to be decided before the end of 2015, according to analysts.
Chevron has said in the past it was “premature to make any statement on FID date for the project.”
Additional reporting by Shadia Nasralla in Vienna; Editing by Veronica Brown and William Hardy