Azerbaijani oil company acquires stake in UK field from Shell

By bne IntelliNews February 12, 2016

Nobel Upstream, the exploration and production arm of Baku-based Nobel oil, has acquired a stake in the Maersk-operated Maclure oil and gas field from Shell, the company said in a press release on February 10.

Nobel Upstream, which is UK-based, bought a 7.59% “non-operated interest” in Maclure. “Completion of the transaction remains subject to necessary approvals,” the press release said.

“We are very pleased to announce this acquisition and look forward to working with the other stakeholders and, in particular, Maersk, who has demonstrated excellent operational management of this asset. This acquisition is a perfect fit with our growth strategy and an important addition to our existing portfolio in Azerbaijan and North America. We see further potential in the field and consider it a best-in-class North Sea opportunity,” Jeremy Huck, CEO of Nobel Upstream, said in the press release.

The Maclure field, located in the UK North Sea, was discovered in 1991 and put into production in 2002. The field is currently producing 8,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day and is operated by Maersk, which owns a 38.19% stake. The remaining stakes in the field are held by TAQA and Apache with 37.04% and 17.18% respectively.

The acquisition is part of Nobel Upstream’s strategy to build “a balanced portfolio of upstream assets” in the former Soviet Union and the UK and West Texas, the press release noted.

A spokesperson for Nobel Oil explained that the acquisition was “an important addition” to the company’s existing portfolio in Azerbaijan and North America. “The recent drop in the oil price meant the acquisition became economically attractive,” the spokesperson told bne IntelliNews. “We take a long­term view on the oil price and, in the current environment, will purchase assets that can survive at the bottom of the cycle and can provide higher cash returns when prices strengthen.” The spokesperson added: “The company is fully funded and has no debt. We are paying cash for the stake in Maclure.”

Nobel Upstream, a UK company “with a best practice governance framework and sound risk management and internal control systems”, is owned by Nasib Hasanov, a “private oil and gas entrepreneur and philanthropist” from Azerbaijan, who is the sole shareholder of the Nobel Upstream group and Nobel Oil Services group of companies, the spokesperson told bne IntelliNews.

Nobel Oil has a 20% stake in the offshore Umid gas condensate field in the Caspian Sea, with the remaining 80% held in Azerbaijan’s national oil and gas company Socar. The field increased output to 1mn cubic metres (cm) in 2015 from 630,000 cm per day in 2014.

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