February 28, 2019 / 12:08 PM / 3 months ago

Eni, HitecVision team up to bid for Conoco's North Sea assets - sources

* North Sea producer Chrysaor also preparing bid - sources

* Conoco relaunched sale after Ineos abandoned talks

* Assets could fetch up to $2 billion

By Ron Bousso

LONDON, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Italy's Eni has teamed up with private equity firm HitecVision to bid against Chrysaor for ConocoPhillip's North Sea oil and gas assets, sources close to the process said.

Conoco relaunched the sale process in recent weeks after energy and chemicals firm Ineos, privately owned by British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, abandoned exclusive talks with the U.S. company, the sources said.

The sale, which would mark Conoco's exit from the ageing basin after more than 50 years, was expected to raise up to $2 billion.

Eni is partnering with Norway's HitecVision to bid for the assets, sources close to the process said.

The two firms are looking to tighten cooperation in the North Sea after merging their Norwegian assets to create independent producer Var Energi in December, the sources said.

Chrysaor, backed by private equity firm EIG Global Partners, became one of the largest North Sea producers after acquiring assets from Royal Dutch Shell for $3.8 billion in 2017.

Its Chief Executive Officer Phil Kirk has stated he wants to grow Chrysaor's operations in the basin.

Chrysaor was looking at Conoco's assets before Ineos entered exclusive talks and was now preparing a formal bid, the sources said.

Chrysaor was expected to carry on with its bid for Chevron's North Sea assets, the sources said.

HitecVision was not immediately available to comment. Eni, Chrysaor, Ineos and Conoco declined to comment.

Additional reporting by Clara Denina, Nerijus Adomaitis in Oslo, Stephen Jewkes in Milan Editing by Edmund Blair

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