North Sea assets of BP could be next in line if shareholders succeed in forcing the oil giant into any more sales, an Aberdeen-based energy expert said yesterday.
Andrew Reid, managing director of oil and gas consultant Douglas-Westwood, said mature UK Continental Shelf assets producing “not much in BP’s world” and needing considerable investment were obvious disposal targets for the company.
But their sale by BP could be good news for the North Sea as there would be no shortage of potential buyers eager to invest money in them, Mr Reid added.
He was speaking after a report said BP was facing calls from some of its biggest shareholders to sell off up to half of its assets as part of a radical restructuring of the group.
Some of the firm’s top 10 shareholders were said to want BP to double the value of existing sale plans, with it having already earmarked £18.4billion-worth of assets for disposal following the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster a year ago.
Unnamed shareholders claimed the group had a “once in a generation” chance to transform itself into a smaller, faster-growing company.
“The company needs to be shrunk considerably to make it an interesting investment,” one investor was quoted as saying, adding: “Recent asset sales show that there are lots of buyers for these assets out there and it’s a fantastic opportunity to wind up half the company.”
BP has already sold £14.69billion-worth of assets, including interests in the US, North Sea, Argentina, Egypt, Venezuela, Vietnam and Colombia, to pay for a compensation fund and clean-up costs following the fatal explosion at its Deepwater Horizon rig.
But the group’s share price is still one-third lower than it was before the disaster, closing at 455.75p on Friday.
The company invested some £1.5billion of capital in the North Sea during 2010 and plans to invest some £12billion in total over the next five years.
A BP spokesman said the firm currently had no plans to expand its existing programme of asset disposals.