Norway’s Equinor said on Wednesday it has agreed to sell its assets in the U.S. Bakken oil province after a decade plagued with billions of dollars of losses and criticism at home for poor investment decisions.
Equinor will sell its entire Bakken acreage, located in the states of North Dakota and Montana, to Grayson Mill Energy, a company backed by private equity firm EnCap Investments, for a total of around $900 million.
“Equinor is optimising its oil and gas portfolio to strengthen profitability and make it more robust for the future,” chief executive Anders Opedal said in a statement.
“We are realising proceeds that can be deployed towards more competitive assets in our portfolio, enabling us to deliver increased value creation for our shareholders,” he added.
An exit from the Bakken, which the Norwegian company entered in 2011 by acquiring Brigham Exploration Company for $4.7 billion, follows the sale of its operated assets in the Eagle Ford for $325 million to Repsol in 2019.
Between 2007 and 2019, Equinor recorded an accounting loss of $21.5 billion on its overall U.S. activities, including $9.2 billion due to impairments of onshore shale and other assets, a company commissioned report by accountants PwC has shown.
Norwegian lawmakers have called on the government, as Equinor’s largest shareholder, to take a more active role, and Energy Minister Tina Bru has demanded more transparency from Equinor.
Equinor separately reported a record annual net loss of $5.5 billion for 2020, hit by low oil and gas prices and large writedowns amid the pandemic, and cut its planned capital expenditure for 2021-2022.
The company plans to invest $9 billion to $10 billion in each of the two years, compared to its previous guidance of $10 billion in 2021 and $12 billion in 2022, it said.
Equinor reported adjusted fourth-quarter operating profit of $756 million, largely in line with forecasts by analysts, and will pay a quarterly dividend of $0.12 per share, one cent up from the third quarter, but down from $0.27 a year earlier.