British Gas sells stake in North Sea block for dollars 232m

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The Independent Online
BRITISH GAS has sold its 14 per cent stake in North Sea block 16/17 to the Louisiana Land and Exploration Company for dollars 232m, writes Mary Fagan.

The deal is the first significant disposal by British Gas's exploration and production arm and is subject to approval by other partners in the block, including Agip, Fina and Murphy Petroleum.

The company said the purchase was also subject to regulatory approvals. Block 16/17, south of the Brae field, contains the Tiffany field, where production is scheduled to start in early September, and the satellite field Toni, due to start production in November.

Louisiana Land said the two fields were expected to reach a combined gross production rate of 95,000 barrels a day of liquid hydrocarbons in early 1994. The development of two additional fields, Thelma and South-east Thelma, is in the planning stage.

Howard Dalton, British Gas's managing director for exploration and production, said the sale was part of the rationalisation of its UK Continental Shelf portfolio, enabling it to focus on areas of greater strategic value.

British Gas places increasing emphasis on exploration and production, one of few areas of its business not subject to regulation by the watchdog, Ofgas. The company faces an uncertain period, with the publication due next week of a Monopolies and Mergers Commission report on the UK gas supply business.