BP to Sell Gulf of Mexico Assets for $5.55 Billion


BP (ISE: BP.L) (NYS: BP) rallied 5 pence, or 1%, higher to 440 pence during lunchtime trading today after confirming the sale of a number of oil and gas fields in the Gulf of Mexico to Plains Exploration & Production (NYS: PXP)

BP said it is to sell its company-operated Marlin, Dorado, King, Horn Mountain and Holstein fields, as well as dispose of investment stakes in the Ram Powell and Diana Hoover fields.

In return, Plains will pay BP $5.55 billion in cash, with the deal expected to complete by the end of this year. In addition, Plains will pay $560 million to Royal Dutch Shell (ISE: RDSB.L) (NYS: RDS.B) for its interest in the Holstein field.

Bob Dudley, BP group chief executive, said: "While these assets no longer fit our business strategy, the Gulf of Mexico remains a key part of BP's global exploration and production portfolio and we intend to continue investing at least $4 billion there annually over the next decade."

Today's news comes less than month after BP announced the $2.5 billion sale of a Californian refinery and 800 ARCO-branded petrol stations to Tesoro Corporation (NYS: TSO) .

Indeed, results last 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 $32 billion and is aiming to raise $38 billion by the end of 2013. BP's latest balance sheet carried 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 8 cents per share per quarter, or about 20 pence per share per annum.

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