Ithaca Agrees to Sell Norwegian Business to Hungary's MOL


LONDON, April 24 (Reuters) – North Sea oil and gas company Ithaca Energy has agreed to sell its Norwegian business to Hungary's MOL for $60 million, the companies said on Friday, marking the Hungarian company's entry into Norway's oil market.

Ithaca's Norwegian business includes 14 licences in the Norwegian North Sea, three of which are operated by the unit, and it has committed to drilling three exploration wells in 2015-16.

If these exploration drills turn out to be successful, Ithaca is entitled to additional bonus payments of up to $30 million under the deal, depending on discovery size, the companies said.

Ithaca, which had acquired the Norwegian business as part of its purchase of Valiant Petroleum in 2003, will use the proceeds from the sale to pay off debt, it said.

"The sale provides Ithaca with the right opportunity to now monetise the value of this non-core part of the company," said Chief Executive Les Thomas.

MOL has been actively expanding its North Sea portfolio, most recently with the purchase of 6 licences from Premier Oil for $130 million, and the Ithaca transaction will offer it an entry into the Norwegian market.

"MOL's target is to further extend its portfolio in Norway and add additional assets and licences to IPN (Ithaca Petroleum Norge)," MOL said.

The transaction, which will be backdated to Jan. 1, 2015, is expected to close in the third quarter.

(Reporting by Karolin Schaps; Editing by Pravin Char)



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