Austrian oil firm OMV has continued its expansion into the North Sea after splurging up to £50million on fields west of Shetland as it eyes a new hub for the region.
The firm, which upped its stake in the region last year following a £1.6billion deal with Statoil, has paid another £30million to acquire four licences from US independent Hess.
It could pay a further £21million for the licences, which includes the Cambo field and the Blackrock prospect, depending on how successful they become.
The deal will see OMV up its presence in the West of Shetland sector to 22 licences, including stakes in the Rosebank and Schiehallion projects. It also has a further four licences in waters around the Faroe Islands.
OMV exploration boss Jaap Huijskes said: “This transaction strengthens OMV’s portfolio of assets in our UK focus area, west of Shetland, where we are consistently executing our strategy of unlocking value from our investments by taking larger stakes and more projects with operatorship within our upstream portfolio.”
The firm said it was looking at Cambo as a potential area hub, with the prospect of linking it to the Tornado and Suilven discoveries it already operates in the area. It could also be tied back to nearby fields.
The deal will unlock up to 60million barrels worth of oil for OMV, mainly from the Cambo field, where the company has increased its stake from 15% to 47.5%, if approved by regulators.
It will also up its stake to 75% in the Blackrock prospect, between Rosebank and Cambo, where drilling is due to begin next year, and will take a 75% stake in further adjacent licence.
Hess has been selling off North Sea assets over the last few years, including its stake in the Beryl field off Aberdeen to Shell last year.
OMV has looked to the North Sea as a key part of its expansion plans after being hit by disruption in Libya over recent months. The company said earlier this month its increased stakes in Rosebank and Schiehallion were key drivers in its bid to hit production targets.