Maersk weighs sale of Brazil oil and gas assets

FLORENCE, Italy (Reuters) - A.P. Moller-Maersk MAERSKb.CO is considering selling its oil and gas business in Brazil as the shipping giant's energy group narrows operations in a restructuring, its chief executive said.

While the group has given itself two years to decide on the exact strategy, Maersk Energy is clearly focusing on its two major developments that are planned to start production in 2019 -- Culzean in the UK North Sea and the Statoil-operated Johan Sverdrup in the Norwegian North Sea.

“We have said that we will focus on fewer geographies and certainly in the North Sea. Norway and the U.K. will be an area of focus for Maersk Oil,” Maersk Energy CEO Claus Hemmingsen told Reuters, speaking on the sidelines of the GE Oil and Gas annual meeting in Florence.

Maersk’s assets in Brazil’s offshore Campos basin -- a 20 percent stake in the Wahoo field and a 27 percent stake in Itaipu assets -- appear “on the fringe” of the company’s portfolio, Hemmingsen said.

“It is not being marketed but we are looking through the portfolio.”

The current value of the assets was unclear. The Danish company acquired three Brazilian blocks from SK Energy for $2.4 billion in July 2011 but in 2014 sold its stake in one and wrote down the value of the business by $1.7 billion.

Maersk is in the midst of a major restructuring to shift the company’s focus to its transport and logistics businesses and separate its energy business in the face of a drop in income.

Maersk Energy also plans to break up its oil and gas exploration and production business, known as Maersk Oil, and its three other services businesses -- drilling, supply services and tankers, he said.

“We have three service companies of which many are top quartile if not leaders in their sector. We have three service companies that are all global. We have no intention to limit their presence in their global markets.”

“However there is little to speak of in terms of synergies so we actually believe three stand-alone companies will be the best outcome. That could be achieved by mergers or de-merging them, that has yet to be decided. ”

Reporting by Ron Bousso; Editing by Adrian Croft