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[Oslo] Norwegian energy group Statoil said Monday it was pulling out of the Shah Deniz gas field in Azerbaijan and the South Caucasus Pipeline by selling its 15.5 per cent stake to Malaysia's Petronas.
The value of the operation is US$2.25 billion (1.8 billion euros).
Shah Deniz, located in the Caspian Sea, is a vast project which is expected to reduce the European Union's dependance on Russian gas by covering 20 percent of the bloc's needs via the Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) and the Trans Adriatic Pipeline, two extensions of the South Caucasus Pipeline.
In May, Statoil already sold 10 percent of the gas field and the pipeline to Azerbaijan's Socar (6.7 per cent) and Britain's BP (3.3 per cent) for US$1.45 billion.
Faced with rapid production and falling barrel prices as costs continue to rise, state-controlled Statoil has launched a large divestment programme to boost cash flow and keep paying dividends among its shareholders.
"The divestment optimises our portfolio and strengthens our financial flexibility to prioritise industrial development and high-value growth," Statoil vice president Lars Christian Bacher said in a statement.
The operation also includes the sale of 15.5 per cent in the SCPC holding and 12.4 per cent in the Azerbaijan Gas Supply Company (AGSC).
Statoil's production from the Shah Deniz field in the second quarter was 38,000 barrels equivalent of oil per day, the group said.
Statoil shares were 0.57 per cent higher around 0930 GMT on the Oslo bourse, where the main index was up by 0.58 per cent.
After the completion of the transaction, expected in the first quarter of 2015, Petronas will join Shah Deniz's major shareholders: BP (28.8 per cent), Turkey's TPAO (19 per cent), Socar (16.7 per cent), Russia's Lukoil (10 per cent) and Nico, Swiss subsidiary of Iran's NIOC, (10 per cent). AFP