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EXCLUSIVE-JX Nippon seeks $1.5 bln for UK North Sea oil, gas fields - sources

* Includes stakes in Mariner, Culzean fields - sources

* Factbox on N.Sea fields sold to private firms:

LONDON, May 25 (Reuters) - Japan’s JX Nippon wants to sell its British North Sea oil and gas assets including stakes in some of the basin’s biggest fields in a deal that could fetch up to $1.5 billion, five banking sources said.

The sale is the latest deal in the North Sea marking the handover of assets from oil majors to private companies, which say they can better exploit remaining reserves than huge companies focusing on the energy transition.

JX Nippon has hired Bank of America and Kirk Lovegrove as advisers for the sale of the portfolio, which includes stakes in the Andrew, Culzean and Mariner projects where JX Nippon partners with BP, Total and Equinor respectively, the sources said.

Culzean, with its 300 million barrels of reserves, can cover 5% of Britain’s gas needs alone, according to Total.

The fields produced a net 6,500 barrels of oil equivalent per day for JX Nippon in 2018, before the start of Mariner and Culzean in 2019, according to its website.

JX Nippon entered the basin in 2002 and bought more fields, as well as being awarded exploration licences, in the years after.

JX Nippon had no immediate comment, while Bank of America and Kirk Lovegrove declined to comment. (Additional reporting by Aaron Sheldrick. Editing by Louise Heavens and Mark Potter)

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