Chevron Corp. is selling its last remaining oil exploration license in Norway, putting it one step closer to a full retreat from the aging North Sea basin as the U.S. major seeks higher returns elsewhere.
Chevron’s activity off Norway has been limited for years, but the company’s decision to relinquish its last asset in the country again shows its reluctance to bet on opportunities in mature regions such as northern Europe. Chevron said in July it was seeking to sell most of its oil and gas fields off the U.K. It agreed to sell its stake in the Rosebank project to Equinor ASA last week — a transaction that consultant Wood Mackenzie Ltd. said could “spell the end for Chevron in the U.K. and Europe.”
Chevron agreed to transfer its 20 percent stake in the PL859 license in the Barents Sea, off Norway’s northern tip, to DNO ASA, according to a Sept. 28 letter from the Norwegian Petroleum and Energy Ministry that was obtained by Bloomberg. Oil and gas newspaper Upstream first reported on the deal.
The ministry says in the letter that the transaction “implies that Chevron Norge AS shuts down its operations in Norway and leaves the Norwegian shelf permanently.” A Chevron spokeswoman didn’t immediately reply to an email and phone call seeking comment.
Chevron hasn’t had any producing assets in Norway since it sold its stake in the Draugen oil field in 2014. Yet when the Norwegian government opened up an entirely new exploration area bordering Russian waters in 2016, the company secured a stake in the PL859 license. It held the biggest known, remaining prospect offshore Norway — a rare opportunity to make a gigantic find in the region.
The much-anticipated Korpfjell exploration well proved a disappointment last year when operator Equinor made an uncommercial gas discovery. The company has committed to a deeper well on the same prospect, and plans to drill it next year.
DNO didn’t immediately reply to an email seeking comment.