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Ithaca Energy reportedly poised to buy $1 billion portfolio

written by Bella Palmer
japan-marubeni

The Israeli-owned oil firm is said by Reuters to have agreed to buy the North Sea assets

North Sea-focused Ithaca Energy is reported to be poised to buy a $1 billion portfolio in a deal that would confirm there is still strong interest in oil and gas assets in the area.

The Israeli-owned oil firm is said by Reuters to have agreed to buy the North Sea assets amassed by Japan’s Marubeni. The agency cited industry sources, without identifying any of them.

Ithaca said it did not comment on market speculation.

Delek, the owner of Ithaca, has used the company to achieve rapid expansion in the North Sea with the support of acquisitions. It supported Ithaca to buy a $2 billion portfolio from America’s Chevron in 2019.

That deal was completed amid a shake-up in the North Sea which has acquired fresh impetus as a result of the fallout from the pandemic. This resulted in oil and gas prices plunging to multi-year lows, before the advent of effective coronavirus vaccines fuelled a recovery.

Some firms decided to reduce exposure to the North Sea to free up funds to invest in other basins.

Growing calls for curbs to be placed on oil and gas exploration and production in response to the threat of climate change may dented investor enthusiasm for the sector.

Reuters noted that other Japanese firms are looking to exit the UK North Sea. There are reported to include JX Nippon.

But some firms may think now is a good time to buy oil and gas assets, in the expectation that there may be bargains to be had.

Delek recently made clear that it has been very pleased by the returns it has achieved on its investment in Ithaca.

In its Q2 results, the group noted that Ithaca doubled profits in the period to end June, to 217 million Israeli Shekels ($67.57 million).

However, Delek is considering floating Ithaca on the London Stock Exchange in a move to generate cash for the group. It may not want Ithaca to make an acquisition that would tie up resources.

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