Exxon Mobil seeks to sell Australian Bass Strait oil, gas assets

FILE PHOTO: Logos of ExxonMobil are seen in its booth at Gastech, the world's biggest expo for the gas industry, in Chiba, Japan April 4, 2017. REUTERS/Toru Hanai/File Photo

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Oil major Exxon Mobil Corp XOM.N said on Wednesday it was looking to sell its 50% stake in the Gippsland Basin oil and gas development in Australia's Bass Strait as part of a broader review of its portfolio of assets around the world.

The Gippsland Basin joint venture, off the state of Victoria, has long been the mainstay oil and gas supplier into southeastern Australia, but output from the fields is in decline.

Operator Exxon's 50-50 joint venture partner in the assets is global miner BHP Group BHP.AX. BHP declined to comment on whether it might sell its own stake or whether it would be interested in buying Exxon's assets.

“Exxon Mobil will be testing market interest for a number of assets worldwide, including its operated producing assets in Australia, as part of an ongoing evaluation of its assets,” the company said in an emailed statement.

“No agreements have been reached and no buyer has been identified,” the company said in the statement. It said operations would continue as normal throughout the effort to sell the assets, without disclosing any targeted value for a deal.

The statement was released after the Gippsland Times newspaper reported the company’s workers in Gippsland had been told by Exxon Mobil Australia chairman, Nathan Fay, that the assets were on the market.

BHP said in an emailed comment that it had been notified by Exxon of the latter’s plan to put its interests in the Gippsland Basin joint venture (GBJV) up for sale.

“BHP recognises the importance of GBJV to the reliable supply of gas in to the east coast domestic market and we remain committed to maintaining that supply,” a BHP spokesman said in an emailed comment.

Exxon’s other producing asset in Australia is a 25% stake in the giant Gorgon liquefied natural gas project in Western Australia, which is not part of the sale process.

Reporting by Sonali Paul; editing by Darren Schuettler and Kenneth Maxwell