Oil Search Plans Big Acquisition, InterOil PNG Fields Stake Seen Likely

Reuters

MELBOURNE, Feb 25 (Reuters) - Oil Search said on Tuesday it was close to sealing a significant acquisition, sparking speculation it had reached a deal to buy into rival InterOil's gas fields in Papua New Guinea.

Oil Search, Papua New Guinea's biggest oil firm, has said previously that it was in talks to buy into the Elk and Antelope fields, which French oil giant Total SA acquired a stake in last December in a deal worth up to $3.6 billion.

Oil Search had been due to release its full-year results on Tuesday but postponed that for at least two days due to the pending deal. It declined to comment on the transaction it was working on.

"As soon as we have something finalised, we'll release our results and information about the transaction," Oil Search's Investor Relations Manager Ann Diamant said.

Total bought a 61 percent interest in InterOil's license holding the Elk and Antelope fields in December and said it may sell down a 19 percent stake in a deal that would need InterOil's approval.

A spokesman for InterOil declined to comment on whether a transaction was in the works.

Citi analysts estimated if Oil Search picked up a 19 percent stake on the same terms as Total, it would need to pay up to $1 billion in three stages, after the fields were appraised and a final decision was made to develop them.


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