x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Taqa buys field to lift European profile

Otter already linked to firm's pipeline infrastructure.

Abu Dhabi National Energy Company, known as Taqa, has bought a North Sea oilfield as it seeks to increase its European presence. The field is linked to the company's existing pipeline infrastructure but has seen output steadily decline in the past three years. The acquisition is seen as a test of Taqa's new strategy to focus on buying assets that tie in more closely to its existing investments.

The company holds a diverse portfolio including gasfields in western Canada and power plants in the Caribbean, which it acquired in a three-year buying spree that was put on hold last October when its former chief executive left. Taqa yesterday announced it had bought an 81 per cent stake in the Otter oilfield in British waters from the French oil giant Total. It did not disclose the value of the transaction. The other 19 per cent is held by Dana Petroleum, a small British oil company.

Otter produces about 8,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude, down from 25,000 bpd in 2007, Total says. Output from the field would raise Taqa's total production of oil and gas in the North Sea by 15.8 per cent, up from a total of 50,400 barrels of oil equivalent today, figures from the company's website show. Taqa officials yesterday said they were confident they could still squeeze oil out of the declining field. Otter would add to Taqa's existing output "efficiently", said Abdulla al Nuaimi, the company's chief executive.

"This transaction again underscores our long-term commitment to the North Sea," Mr al Nuaimi said. "Taqa has gained first-hand operational expertise of operating mature fields in the area and we are confident of the opportunity to optimise the asset efficiently." Total started production at the field in 2002 from three wells. It built a 21km pipeline to take oil from the field to the Eider platform, then owned by Shell but bought by Taqa in 2008.

The new field tied in to Taqa's existing infrastructure, said Leo Koot, the managing director of Taqa Bratani, the company's North Sea division. "This transaction is an excellent fit with our strategic objectives and again presents us with the opportunity to grow production and further develop the blocks," he said. In 2008, Taqa paid US$631 million (Dh2.31 billion) to buy seven oilfields from Shell and ExxonMobil. Last year, the company bought DSM Energy, a Dutch oil and gas producer, for $285m, and took control of the Brent pipeline system.

cstanton@thenational.ae