BP to sell four smaller North Slope fields, retain ownership of Prudhoe

BP announced Tuesday it will sell four of its North Slope assets to Houston-based independent Hilcorp Energy. The agreement includes all of BP’s interests in the Endicott and Northstar fields and 50 percent of BP’s interests in the Milne Point field and Liberty, an undeveloped offshore field still under development planning.

Oil and gas pipelines associated with those fields are included in the sale, BP said in its announcement.

The London-based company will retain its ownership position in the large Prudhoe Bay field, and BP will remain as operator. Hilcorp will become operator of Endicott and Northstar, which it will own, and also the Milne Point field, where it will be 50 percent owner with BP.

“This agreement will help bring a more competitive and sustainable business for BP in Alaska,” BP’s Upstream Chief Executive, Lamar McKay said.

“It will allow us to play to two of our great strengths, managing giant oil fields and gas value trains. We will now concentrate on continuing development and production from the giant Prudhoe Bay field and working to advance the future opportunity of Alaska LNG,” McKay said, a reference to the gas pipeline and LNG export project BP is working on with other North Slope producers ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil, and the state of Alaska.

Janet Weiss, president of BP’s Alaska operating company, said there were big benefits from the transaction. 

“BP will be able to focus on maximizing production from Prudhoe Bay and advancing the LNG project,” she said in the statement.

BP also expects to submit a development schedule for the Liberty field to the U.S. Bureau of Offshore Energy Management by the end of 2014, the announcement said.

BP said it remains committed to its plans for increased investment at Prudhoe Bay, which have resulted from recent oil tax reform by the state of Alaska. The plans include adding two drilling rigs, one in 2015 and a second in 2016, for a total incremental $1 billion investment over five years. 

Approximately 250 employees are associated with the assets included in the agreement and the company is committed to providing clarity about their future as soon as possible. 

The majority of those BP employees at or supporting Milne Point, Endicott and Northstar are expected to be offered positions with Hilcorp with no break in employment, BP said.

Together the assets included in the sale represent approximately 19,700 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boe/d) of net production for BP, less than 15 percent of BP’s total net production on the North Slope.

The sale, which will be subject to state and federal regulatory approval, is anticipated to be complete by the end of the year. Financial details of the transaction are not being disclosed.