The boss of fast-growing oil and gas operator Taqa Bratani is looking for “transformational deals” and wants to double the business in the North Sea.
Leo Koot, managing director, said the firm was looking outside of its current assets, which include 16% ownership and operatorship of the Brent system and four northern North Sea platforms.
Although the firm has no set budget for acquisitions, it has the backing of its majority owner – the Abu Dhabi national government.
“We are committed to the North Sea and we are building our capabilities in exploration and we are ready for growth,” Mr Koot told the Press and Journal on a visit to the firm’s Tern platform in the northern North Sea.
“We are ready for the next step. Watch this space.”
In little more than three years, Taqa Bratani has risen from being a new kid on the North Sea block with just seven staff to being a fully-fledged operator.
In that time it has bought into the Brae complex, took over four platforms in the northern North Sea from Shell, taken assets at the Sullom Voe Terminal and became operator of the Brent System.
It has taken on substantial office space at Westhill and employs some 2,000 people directly and indirectly, onshore and offshore.
This year alone it has started production on its Falcon prospect, took over the Otter field and has continued an aggressive drilling campaign including exploration.
But it is not just about buying assets – it is about getting the best out of them. Just this year it has spent £300million investing in its infrastructure, from new utilities systems to upgrading accommodation.
The firm has also been investing some £20million in enhanced oil recovery technology it wants to trial on Tern from next summer. It hopes to increase the field’s current 40%-plus recovery rate by 7%.
“1% extra production is a big prize,” said Mr Koot.
The firm has also restarted drilling from the platform – eight years since drilling was last carried out.
All of which epitomises his business plan of making assets safe, then efficient and then increasing production – from 8,000 barrels of oil a day to 21,000 on Tern.
However, it could have been a different story, had the decision on whether to invest been made after the recent hike in tax on UK oil and gas producers.
Taqa picked the North Sea and a base in Aberdeen as it is “the centre of the European oil and gas business”, he said. It was seen as a learning ground for the fledging operator.
“When we came into the North Sea we chose it over Norway,” said Mr Koot, citing the tax regime and stability. “But now that’s gone. If we had had to make the decision again it may have been different.”
Hindering growth is also the issue over decommissioning, specifically the security to cover the cost of removing assets requested by the firms selling them, he said.
The cost of decommissioning is something he’s well aware of. Taqa’s bill for removing its four platforms in the northern Sea sits at £1billion, said Mr Koot.