The North Sea is dead — long live the . Whatever decline is under way on the UK side, Norway’s oil industry has had a renaissance of sorts. A very large 2.3bn barrel discovery at Johan Sverdrup back in 2010 means production should begin to grow again over the coming decade. In the meantime, local explorers such as Det norske could use some cash flow to tide them over.
On Friday, it found some. BP’s Norwegian operation (called BP Norge) in a cash and share transaction. Aker ASA, a Norwegian oil-focused conglomerate that owns 49 per cent of Det norske, will buy some of these shares to end up with 40 per cent of Aker BP, as the new company will be known. BP will receive $140m plus 30 per cent of the equity. That figure makes sense given that it will contribute a third of the reserves and over time about the same share of production.
Adding BP’s assets will make the new entity stronger. With Aker’s added equity and BP Norge’s positive free cash flow, the new company should have a stronger balance sheet. Det norske could use a little help on this front. Its net debt is a hefty four times its forecast earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation. Aker BP should even pay a dividend, all this while oil production grows at a high single digits annually until 2023.
More cash for Det norske’s production plans played well with punters — its shares jumped 9 per cent. Before the celebrations get out of hand, note that Aker has paid a price that fully reflects expectations for the oil price. Det norske itself, which has already had a strong run this year, trades at a price that implies $74 oil, according to Arctic Securities. Neither side gave clear cost-cut targets.
Still, Det norske secures its growth plans, BP gets some of its money out (it had planned to sell out of Norway completely) and shareholders get growth and income. Blow the trumpets.
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