BP Reportedly Seeking $7.9 Billion for Gulf of Mexico Fields

LONDON -- BP (ISE: BP.L) (NYS: BP) remained unchanged at 451 pence during early London trade following a report by Bloomberg that the oil major was seeking as much as $7.9 billion for a group of oil fields in the Gulf of Mexico.

Today's report claimed BP had prepared preliminary information for prospective buyers for the Horn Mountain, Holstein, Diana Hoover, and Ram Powell fields. The areas apparently carry proven reserves of about 120 million barrels of oil.

The speculation on Bloomberg comes just two days after BP formally announced the $2.5 billion sale of a Californian refinery and 800 ARCO-branded gas stations to Tesoro Corporation (NYS: TSO) . The deal should see Tesoro acquire the 266,000 barrel-per-day refinery before mid-2013.

BP said on Monday that the disposal to Tesoro was a "significant step in the strategic refocusing" of BP's operations in the United States following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Indeed, results earlier this month showed BP raising $1.9 billion from disposals during the second quarter and $3.2 billion during the first half. Since the start of 2010, BP has announced disposals of $26.5 billion and is aiming to raise $38 billion by the end of 2013. BP's balance sheet currently carries assets held for resale of $9 billion.

The disposals follow a period of heavy investment for BP. In particular, the oil group invested $52 billion in the U.S. between 2007 and 2011 -- a sum that BP says exceeded the U.S. expenditure of any other oil and gas company.

Furthermore, all the disposals should help BP's cash flow and its ability to pay dividends, which currently run at $0.08 per share per quarter, or about 20 pence per share per annum.

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