HitecVision AS is emerging as the frontrunner to acquire Exxon Mobil Corp.’s oil assets in the U.K. North Sea, according to people familiar with the matter.
The private equity firm is in advanced talks with Exxon about a potential deal, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential information. A sale could fetch around $1 billion for Exxon, though final terms of a transaction are still being negotiated, the people said.
HitecVision has been involved in a string of acquisitions, both on its own and through portfolio companies like U.K.-focused NEO Energy. It’s already been building up its presence in the region, with NEO completing a purchase of some British North Sea assets from Total SE in August.
There’s no certainty HitecVision will reach an agreement with Exxon, and another buyer could still emerge, the people said. Representatives for Exxon, HitecVision and NEO declined to comment.
Exxon kicked off the sale of its North Sea assets this summer, months later than originally expected because of the coronavirus crisis. The company is offering 15 fields that are forecast to produce 37,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day net this year, Bloomberg News has reported.
The disposal would build on Exxon’s retreat from Europe, part of a $15 billion global divestment plan that’s seeing it focus more on the U.S. Var Energi AS, a joint venture between HitecVision and Eni SpA, agreed last year to buy Exxon’s Norwegian oil and natural gas assets for $4.5 billion.