February 28, 2019 / 12:11 PM / in 5 months

Eni, HitecVision team up to bid for Conoco's North Sea assets: sources

LONDON (Reuters) - Italy’s Eni has teamed up with private equity firm HitecVision to bid against Chrysaor for ConocoPhillip’s North Sea oil and gas assets, sources close to the process said.

Conoco relaunched the sale process in recent weeks after energy and chemicals firm Ineos, privately owned by British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, abandoned exclusive talks with the U.S. company, the sources said.

The sale, which would mark Conoco’s exit from the ageing basin after more than 50 years, was expected to raise up to $2 billion.

Eni is partnering with Norway’s HitecVision to bid for the assets, sources close to the process said.

The two firms are looking to tighten cooperation in the North Sea after merging their Norwegian assets to create independent producer Var Energi in December, the sources said.

Chrysaor, backed by private equity firm EIG Global Partners, became one of the largest North Sea producers after acquiring assets from Royal Dutch Shell for $3.8 billion in 2017.

Chrysaor Chief Executive Officer Phil Kirk has stated he wants to grow Chrysaor’s operations in the basin.

The sources said Chrysaor was looking at Conoco’s assets before Ineos entered exclusive talks and was now preparing a formal bid.

Chrysaor was expected to carry on with its bid for Chevron’s North Sea assets, the sources said.

ConocoPhillips, whose production in Britain’s North Sea reached 75,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2017, said it was continuing the sale process for its British North Sea assets with a number of parties, without naming them.

The assets include a 7.5 percent stake in the west Shetlands region’s Clair field, which is operated by BP, as well as holdings in the Britannia and J-Block hubs.

Eni, Chrysaor and Ineos declined to comment.

HitecVision was not immediately available to comment.

Additional reporting by Clara Denina, Nerijus Adomaitis in Oslo, Stephen Jewkes in Milan; Editing by Edmund Blair

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