UPDATE 1-Abu Dhabi's Taqa buys Shell, Exxon North Sea interests

Mon Jul 7, 2008 10:39am BST

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DUBAI, July 7 (Reuters) - Abu Dhabi National Energy Co TAQA.AD (Taqa) said on Monday it had bought northern North Sea equity interests from Shell (RDSa.L) and ExxonMobil (XON.N) as part of efforts to consolidate its presence in Europe.

"Today's announcement brings us one step closer to our stated strategy of building a global energy company, with an equal distribution of assets in North America, Europe and the Middle East," Taqa CEO Peter Barker-Homek said in a statement.

"We believe that the North Sea offers significant potential for companies like Taqa and we will be making a significant investment over the coming years to extend the productive life and commercial viability of our assets."

Taqa did not give financial details of the deal.

The sale includes all equity, infrastructure and production licences for the Tern, Eider, Cormorant North, South Cormorant, Kestrel and Pelican fields and related sub-sea satellite fields, Taqa's wholly owned subsidiary Taqa Bratani said in a statement.

The fields produce around 40,000 barrels per day of oil equivalent.

Oil majors have been selling their assets in the mature, declining oil sector for years as they look to invest in cheaper production regions with higher potential returns.

But Taqa, which is majority owned by the Abu Dhabi government, has already amassed over $1 billion of North Sea oil and gas assets in purchases from Canada's Talisman and oil major BP in November 2006 and January 2007 respectively.

"This is further evidence of our long-term commitment to Europe and will build on our asset optimisation successes in the Netherlands and the UK to date," he said.

The UAE is the world's fifth-largest oil exporter and Taqa's expansion is part of the Gulf Arab state's drive to use record oil revenues to diversify.

The company expects to announce four new deals worth around $5 billion this year, including a joint venture with a major U.S. utility and a windfarm in Morocco.

Taqa has appointed energy services company John Wood Group to operate, maintain and manage offshore production in the northern North Sea fields.

Taqa itself would focus instead on building its presence in the United Kingdom.

The transaction is subject to regulatory approval. It is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2008. (Reporting by Lin Noueihed, Editing by Sue Thomas)

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