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Norway's Statoil to reduce stake in US shale formation

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Statoil has sold part of its stake in a shale field in the northeast of the United States to Southwestern Energy for US$394 million, the Norwegian energy firm said on Tuesday.

[OSLO] Statoil has sold part of its stake in a shale field in the northeast of the United States to Southwestern Energy for US$394 million, the Norwegian energy firm said on Tuesday.

Like its rivals, Statoil is stepping up efforts to sell assets and preserve cash as the industry faces a slump in the oil price, which has fallen by around a half since June.

Shale oil is typically more expensive to produce than conventional oil.

Statoil said it had agreed to reduce its stake in the US Southern Marcellus onshore asset to 23 percent from 29 percent.

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The Norwegian firm has stakes in 615,500 acres of the formation, of which 91,400 are operated by Statoil. The stake it sold is not operated by Statoil. "The proceeds from this deal represent approximately one crown per Statoil share and helps it maintain its dividend for the next quarter, but not much more than that," ABG Sundal Collier analyst John Olaisen said.

Southwestern Energy closed an additional acquisition of oil and gas assets in the Marcellus and Utica shale fields on Monday in a US$4.98 billion transaction with Chesapeake Energy Corp , the second-largest U.S. producer of natural gas. . "The price is in line with what Southwestern paid in the Chesapeake deal. If Statoil could get the same price per acre for its entire stake in Marcellus, then that would be a very very good price," Olaisen said.

Statoil's third-quarter production from the Marcellus play amounted to 130,500 barrels of oil equivalent per day, of which around 4,000 barrels came from the assets included in the transaction.

REUTERS

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