Ineos buys more Offshore Gas Licenses
The increasingly acquisitive Ineos is pumping more money into the search for offshore oil and gas reserves in the North Sea. In its latest move, the Swiss-based chemical producer has signed an agreement with Siccar Point Energy to acquire two-thirds of the exploration licenses the Aberdeen, Scotland-based company holds for areas 150 km north of the Shetland Islands under 1,600 meters of water.
Buying the Shetland licenses represents a further step in Ineos’ drive, beginning in 2015, to extend its presence in the offshore gas sector, in addition to possessing the largest number of onshore shale gas exploration licenses in the UK. In that year it announced plans to buy 12 gas fields in the southern North Sea owned by DEA, the former oil and gas arm of German energy group RWE.
In May of this year, Ineos said it would acquire stakes in more gas fields in the southern North Sea, this time from Denmark’s DONG Energy, for $1 billion. Approved by EU regulatory authorities in July, the purchase made the chemical group by its own account the UK’s largest privately owned oil and gas explore.
The DONG holdings include ten gas and oilfields operated by the Danish energy company in Norway and Denmark, along with the UK. The fields reportedly pump 100,000 bb/d and have 570 million barrels of viable reserves.
Earlier in the year, Ineos clinched a deal with oil and petrochemicals giant BP to buy the Forties Pipeline Network (FPS) that transport 575,000 bbl/d of oil from the UK’s first major offshore oil field. The 169-km system links 85 North Sea oil and gas assets, with around 20% of the throughput going to feed Ineos’ refinery at Grangemouth, Scotland.
The licenses Ineos is acquiring from Siccar apply to the Lyon cluster of potential deepwater fields, which have been projected to yield 1 to 3 million cbf of recoverable gas reserves. This, industry experts say, could make them a hub for surrounding smaller fields.
Siccar Point, along with France’s Total and the energy group SSE, has a stake in some of the fields discovered area 18 years ago and named after whisky distilleries such as Tobermory, Bunnehaven and Cragganmore.
Commenting on the latest deal, Geir Tuft, CEO of Ineos Oil & Gas, said it “confirms our aim to take a leading role to develop the Northern Gas Fields using the significant infrastructure investments already made West of Shetland.” Ineos director, Tom Crotty told UK media that it is yet unclear how much gas the region might hold.