Upated: Ineos in talks to buy ConocoPhillips’s North Sea portfolio

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Petrochemicals giant Ineos is in talks to acquire ConocoPhillips’s UK North Sea portfolio.

The Times reported earlier that Ineos, led by billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, had entered into a three-month exclusivity period with the US firm for the assets.

HSBC and Citigroup are ready to provide financing, the report said.

In an email to Energy Voice, an Ineos spokesman confirmed that the company is “in discussions” with ConocoPhillips.

The package is worth an estimated £2.3 billion and includes ConocoPhillips’s stake in the Clair field, west of Shetland.

ConocoPhillips, which also operates the Britannia field, confirmed last week that it was “marketing” its portfolio after receiving an “unsolicited offer”.

The company is one of several international oil companies to have been linked with a North Sea exit in the last 18 months, including Chevron and Marathon Oil.

In July, ConocoPhillips announced it would sell 16.5% of its equity in the Clair Field to BP, leaving it with 7.5%.

At the time, Luke Parker, analyst at energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie, said the Houston-headquartered business’s complete withdrawal from the UK seemed “likely to follow”.

Newer, private-equity-backed companies are likely to take an interest in ConocoPhillips’s assets if the deal with Ineos falls through.

Ineos, traditionally focused on petrochemicals, has been expanding its North Sea footprint through acquisitions in recent years.

The Switzerland-registered company announced its arrival in the basin in 2015 when it bought stakes in several fields, including Breagh and Clipper South, from Dea.

It completed a deal to buy Dong Energy’s oil and gas business for £1 billion in September 2017 to become one of the North Sea’s top producers.

The transaction gave it a large package of North Sea assets, including stakes in Total’s Laggan Tormore project and Edradour-Glenlivet fields and Chevron’s Rosebank discovery.

A month later, it wrapped up the acquisition of the Forties pipeline from BP.

Ineos has been contacted for comment.