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British oil giant BP Plc (BP - Analyst Report) has announced a $288 million sale agreement with SSE Plc relating to its share in non-operated North Sea assets.

The all-cash deal with respect to the Sean gas field in the UK North Sea, where BP holds a 50% stake is estimated to be completed in the first half of 2013.

BP’s decision to divest its stake in non-operated North Sea assets forms part of a broader program which proposes to focus on high value assets having long-term growth potential.

Located in the southern North Sea – Sean gas field is operated by Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDS.A - Analyst Report). BP’s share of net production from the field is equivalent to around 18,000 barrels of oil per day.

The annual North Sea production for BP averages around 200,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, while the estimated proven and contingent resource available to the company in the region is more than three billion barrels.

BP announced a string of divestitures during 2012. The two deals that were completed in the last fortnight includes the sale of its non-operating stakes in the Alba and Britannia fields to Mitsui and the Draugen field in Norway to Shell.

Over the next five years, BP plans to spend around $10 billion in the North Sea, covering key projects in the UK and in Norway. With three major projects ongoing in the UK — Clair Ridge, Quad 204 (Schiehallion) and Kinnoull — and two in Norway — Skarv and the Valhall Redevelopmen — the region holds immense growth potential for the coming years.

Some of the operating assets of BP in the region are Clair, Schiehallion, Foinaven and Magnus in the Shetland area; Harding and Bruce in the UK’s central North Sea; and Valhall, Ula, and Hod in Norway.

BP holds a Zacks #3 Rank, which is equivalent to a Hold rating for a period of one to three months. Longer term, we maintain our Neutral recommendation.
 

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