Merill Datasite Provide VDR during AIP Acquisition of Remaining Stake in the Central Area Transmission System

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Merlin Piscitelli, Director

BP PLC will sell its share of a North Sea natural gas pipeline to the line’s majority owner for £324 million ($492 million), the company announced on Thursday, in a move aimed at ensuring the infrastructure’s longevity.

Antin Infrastructure Partners, which already owns about 63 percent of the Central Area Transmission System, or CATS, will pay BP £302 million at the deal’s completion and defer the remaining balance, according to an announcement of the sale. Antin will own 99 percent of the pipeline after the transaction, with ENI SpA and ConocoPhillips retaining a combined 1 percent stake.

BP Regional President Trevor Garlick praised CATS’ importance to the company, but said that transferring its ownership of the pipeline will be better for the U.K. in the long run.

“We believe securing this new owner will ensure a better long-term future for this key piece of North Sea infrastructure,” Garlick said in a statement. “Supporting staff and ensuring continued safe operations will be our priority as we go through this transition period.”

BP currently operates the system, which includes a 250-mile, 36-inch diameter pipeline and a gas terminal at Seal Sands, Teesside, with a capacity of 1.2 billion standard cubic feet of gas per day. It was completed in 1993 and currently transports 8 percent of the U.K.’s gas demand, BP said.

The 60 BP workers who run the line will stay on, transferring to a contract operator that Antin plans to select in the second quarter of this year.

Antin bought its current stake in CATS last year from oil and gas exploration giant BG Group PLC for £562 million.

The pipeline transports gas for more than 20 third-party customers. The sale will not affect BP’s capacity rights to CATS, the company said.

Its shedding of CATS does not mean the North Sea region is unimportant to BP, Garlick said. In fact, the company is currently involved in a joint project there worth £7 billion.

“The North Sea is an important region for BP. Our strategy here is to focus our resources and investment to create an efficient, sustainable and competitive business which will contribute to U.K. energy security for many years to come,” Garlick said.