North Sea newcomer Nobel Upstream has cash to spend on further acquisitions, the firm’s chief executive has said.
Jeremy Huck was speaking just days after Azeri-owned Nobel announced its first investment in the UK North Sea, snapping up a 7.59% stake in the Maclure field from Shell.
The former BP Russia president said the company had somewhere between £138million and £207million of equity at its disposal to fund other deals.
He added: “This has been an important step for us going into a new area.
“We are developing a portfolio of similar assets … in markets that are competitive.”
Azeri entrepreneur Nasib Hasanov launched Nobel as a London-based exploration and production business in 2014. Before now, its assets were only in Azerbaijan and the Permian Basin in the US.
Mr Huck said the UK North Sea was attractive because of its maturity as an oil and gas producing region, good technology and the presence of world-leading companies.
“We thought it was a place to get involved,” he said, adding the opportunity to create value through efficiency and benefit from industry best practice and increased recovery rates were also key factors.
Nobel has not revealed how much it is paying for the Maclure stake, with the deal still subject to various approvals, but Mr Huck said the current state of the market meant there were bargains to be found.
“We have known for a while which assets in the North Sea were a fit for us in terms of size,” he added.
Opportunities had recently emerged because assets “became available at a price we thought was attractive,” he said.
On the likelihood of further acquisitions, he said: “There are a few other things that meet the criteria we have for investing in the North Sea.
“They are not necessarily for sale or are maybe not at a price that would be attractive, but we are definitely interested in building on this acquisition. We are monitoring the market.”
Mr Huck said any future North Sea additions to the portfolio could be bigger than Maclure, but stressed Nobel was not interested in becoming an operator.
Maclure, discovered in 1991 and put into production 11 years later, is in the central North Sea about 175 miles north-east of Aberdeen.
The Maersk-operated field, developed as a subsea tieback to the Gryphon floating production, storage and offloading vessel about two miles to the west and also operated by Maersk, is currently producing 8,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.
Nobel said its acquisition of a stake alongside Maersk (38.19%), Taqa (37.04%) and Apache (17.8%) was part of its strategy to build a balanced portfolio of upstream assets in the former Soviet Union, the UK North Sea and west Texas.