Exclusive: North Sea oil producer Siccar Point eyes sale - sources

LONDON (Reuters) - Private equity-backed oil and gas producer Siccar Point is testing the waters for its potential sale later this year, hoping to attract interest for its mostly untapped North Sea resources, industry and banking sources said.

Siccar Point has in recent days invited over a dozen companies to review data on its Corona Ridge area in the west of Shetlands area with the aim of selling down part of its 70% stake in the Cambo field, according to sources close to the process.

The company however hopes that the interest in Cambo will draw offers for its entire portfolio, which includes stakes in a number of major North Sea projects at various stages of development, the sources said.

The projects include stakes in the Mariner field which is operated by Norway's Equinor EQNR.OL and is expected to start production later this year as well as Rosebank, a large project also operated by Equinor.

Siccar Point, headed by Jonathan Roger, a former Centrica executive, and backed by private equity firm Blue Water Energy and Blackstone BX.N, is valued at over $2 billion, according to consultancy WoodMackenzie and one of the sources.

Any decision on a sale of Cambo or Siccar Point as a whole will take place later this year, one of the sources said.

“A Cambo farm down might result in a broader transaction for the company,” one of the sources said.

Investment bank Rothschild and Lambert Energy Advisory are running the process for Siccar Point, according to the sources.

Siccar Point did not respond to a request for comment. A spokeswoman for Blackstone declined to comment. Blue Water, Lambert and Rothschild were not immediately available.

Royal Dutch Shell RDSa.L last year acquired a 30% stake in the Cambo field which Siccar Point aims to develop after successful well tests in August 2018.

The field holds around 500 billion cubic feet of natural gas available for development, according to the company’s 2018 financial statement.

Siccar Point is one of several new private equity-back oil companies in the North Sea. It emerged as a major player following the $1 billion acquisition of Austrian oil and gas company OMV's OMVV.VI UK business in November 2016.

Many of the companies, such as private-equity backed Chrysaor and Neptune, are aiming for future stock market floatations, but uncertainty over the oil price outlook has dampened investor appetite.

Siccar Point had near 479 million barrels of oil equivalent in discovered reserves by the end of 2018, the financial statement said. Its output last year averaged 11,152 barrels of oil equivalent per day and group profit was $161 million.

Last year it sought buyers for its 20% stake in Rosebank, but the sale process was put on hold after the field’s operator Chevron sold its stake to Equinor.

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Reporting by Ron Bousso; editing by David Evans