Norway's Aker BP buys UK oil stake in first foreign move

OSLO, March 24 (Reuters) - Norwegian independent oil firm Aker BP has made its first foreign acquisition, it said on Wednesday, buying a 50% stake in a British North Sea licence from Italy’s Eni.

Jointly controlled by Norwegian billionaire Kjell Inge Roekke and Britain’s BP, Aker BP was set up in 2016 to focus on oil and gas exploration and production from Norway’s continental shelf.

The Eni licence, known as P2511, is located on the maritime border between Norway and Britain, where Aker BP already operates several discoveries in the Alvheim area on the Norwegian side.

“The key objective for the newly established partnership between Eni UK and Aker BP UK is to explore the resource potential across the UK border in the greater Alvheim area,” Aker BP said in a statement.

Eni will remain operator of the British licence. Aker BP declined to provide a valuation for the Eni transaction.

In January, Aker BP Chief Executive Karl Johnny Hersvik told Reuters the company could expand its business to include investment outside Norway if it came across competitive opportunities.

The company had looked at some offshore assets put up for sale by Brazil’s Petrobras, but decided not to bid, he added.

The British deal reflected a pragmatic approach to unlocking potential resources in one of the company’s core areas, an Aker BP spokesman said in an email.

“Unfortunately, the geological structures aren’t aligned with the Norway/UK borderlines,” he said. (Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis, editing by Terje Solsvik and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)