Hess to Sell Azerbaijan Assets for $1B to ONGC Videsh

Hess Corp. said it agreed to sell some minority stakes it holds in fields in Azerbaijan to India's ONGC Videsh Ltd. for $1 billion, as the oil-and-gas producer works to sell off mature and small working interest assets.

"Including this transaction, we have announced asset sales year-to-date totaling nearly $2 billion and additional asset sales are under way as part of our strategic portfolio reshaping," said Greg Hill, president of worldwide exploration and production for Hess.

Shares recently were up 3.5% at $52.61. The stock was still down 7.4% so far this year.

Hess plans to sell its 2.7% interest in the Azeri, Chirag and Guneshli fields in Azerbaijan and its 2.4% interest in the associated BTC pipeline to ONGC, the overseas investment arm of India's state-run Oil & Natural Gas Corp.

The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2013 and is still subject to Indian and other government and regulatory approvals.

The fields, located in the Caspian Sea east of Baku, started production in 1997 and are operated by BP PLC.

Hess has been increasing spending in recent years in order to fund an ambitious exploration program and the development of shale-gas properties it acquired across the U.S. Hess also has been aiming to reduce its exposure to risky exploration programs following a string of dry holes.

In July, Hess said its second-quarter earnings fell as the company's exploration and production segment reported a decline in profit amid lower average oil selling prices.

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.


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