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Sunday Times: BP Puts $3.2 Bln Of North Sea Oil Assets Up For Sale

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3/25/2012 10:24 PM ET

British Oil giant BP plc (BP: Quote,BP.L) has put North Sea oil assets worth about 2 billion pounds or $3.2 billion up for sale, according to a report in the Sunday Times. The auction would be the biggest ever of the company's North Sea oil assets.

BP's move comes after the UK government said it plans to encourage more exploration in the North Sea and has offered tax breaks for the industry.

According to the report in the Sunday Times citing industry sources, BP launched an auction this month to sell many of its stakes in reservoirs where it holds a minority position. The company has reportedly hired investment bank Jefferies as an adviser.

BP, last Thursday, received approval from the UK to drill a new deepwater well off the northwest coast of the Shetland Islands.

In mid-October 2011, BP said that the UK government granted the company and its partners approval to proceed with the 4.5 billion pounds Clair Ridge oilfield development project in the North Sea. BP's partners in the project include Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDS-A, RDSA.L, RDSB.L, RDS-B), ConocoPhillips (COP) and Chevron Corp. (CVX).

At that time, BP noted that the total investment of the company and its partners in four new oil and gas projects in the North Sea, together with development drilling and a number of smaller projects, would be almost 10 billion pounds over the next five years.

Earlier in 2011, BP and its partners announced plans for a 3 billion pounds redevelopment of the Schiehallion and Loyal fields in the Shetland Islands, and a 700 million pounds development of the Kinnoull field in the central North Sea.

BP closed Friday's trading at $45.59, up $0.29 or 0.64 percent on a volume of 3.56 million shares.

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by RTT Staff Writer

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