Venture acquired 100% of the Ensign discovery in transactions with Shell, Esso and Centrica in 2005 and 2006. The sale to NSGP has been completed on the same financial terms as Venture acquired the interests in the field and will leave Venture with a 25% directly held stake in Ensign and an indirect holding of 25% through its 33.33% interest in NSGP. Venture will remain the operator of Ensign with an effective economic interest of 50%.
The Amanda appraisal well and Agatha exploration well (both in block 49/11b) will be drilled in 2007 by the Noble Julie Robertson jack-up drilling rig. NSGP will take a 50% stake in these assets in return for carrying the full well costs on both wells. Venture will remain operator of the assets and have a combined direct and indirect stake of 66.67% post the farm-out. The farm-out remains subject to customary partner and regulatory approvals and is expected to complete during the fourth quarter of 2006.
Commenting on the news, Mike Wagstaff, Chief Executive of Venture said:
"We are delighted to have entered into these first transactions with North Sea Gas Partners. These deals allow us to retain exposure to material exploration and appraisal upside while reducing our overall portfolio risk and capital outlay. Partnering with NSGP allows us to retain operational control and enhance Venture's return on capital invested. The efficiency of these transactions reinforce our view that North Sea Gas Partners is an effective vehicle for future business development in the Southern North Sea."
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