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Italian energy major Eni has held preliminary talks to potentially buy UK-based gas-focused producer Neptune Energy for up to $6 billion, Reuters reported on Wednesday, quoting a source familiar with the matter.
A deal is far from certain because talks are at an early stage and because of differences in valuation.
Both Eni and Neptune Energy declined to comment for Reuters on the report.
Neptune Energy operates mainly in the UK and Norway, where most of its hydrocarbon production consists of natural gas.
Eni is also active offshore Norway via its unit Vår Energi ASA. Neptune Energy and Vår Energi share participation in licenses offshore Norway.
Neptune Energy, owned by private equity investors, also has operations in North Africa and Asia Pacific. The company is backed by CIC and funds advised by Carlyle Group and CVC Capital Partners.
Neptune Energy produced 130,000 net barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2021 and had 2P reserves at 31st December 2021 of 604 million barrels of oil equivalent. Neptune aims to store more carbon than is emitted from its operations and the use of its sold products by 2030.
Neptune Energy said in its Q3 results release earlier this month that it expects near-term production growth, with projects expected to add 47,000 boepd of new production. The company plans to increase output to more than 165,000 boepd in 2023.
Neptune Energy warned that its project developments could be hit by windfall taxes in Europe.
“We have been maturing new development opportunities across our global portfolio, however, some of these opportunities are at risk from potentially poorly targeted windfall taxes, particularly in the UK, Germany and the Netherlands,” CEO Pete Jones said earlier this month.
“Neptune is supportive of a fair level of taxation, but mechanisms must not discourage investment in incremental production to support energy security priorities, as well as carbon reduction initiatives.”
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.