NTR expresses interest in Irish Marathon Oil


The Sunday Business Post has reported that NTR, the Irish utilities group, has expressed an interest in buying the Irish operation of Marathon Oil, which produces about 8 per cent of the country’s gas.

Marathon is considering offloading its Irish operation as part of a global review and NTR is one of a number of companies to have expressed a tentative interest in acquiring the assets, according to sources close to the sale process.

Island Oil & Gas, the Irish exploration company, has already confirmed that it is interested in securing Marathon’s Irish operation and is viewed as the frontrunner in the sale process.

Bord Gáis has also expressed an interest with Marathon’s sale advisers.

NTR has not previously invested heavily in gas, but has significant energy interests. The company recently netted about €850 million from the €1.8 billion sale of wind energy firm Airtricity to Scottish and Southern Energy, and has been actively making new investments (Click Here).

NTR last week merged its US ethanol business with Green Plains Renewable Energy - a Nasdaq-listed firm (Click Here) - and took a stake of over 40 per cent in that business. Last month, the group re-entered the US wind energy sector, by taking a controlling stake in Wind Capital Group, a Missouri-based wind farm operator (Click Here).

The investment quickly followed its purchase of a 51 per cent stake in Arizona solar power company Stirling Energy Systems for $100 million (Click Here). NTR, which is headed by Jim Barry, has a market capitalisation of almost €1.4 billion.

Marathon owns and operates the Kinsale Head and Ballycotton gas fields. The firm also owns 86.5 per cent of the Seven Head field, which it acquired in 2006 from Scottish explorer Ramco. Marathon has a 18.5 per cent stake in the Corrib gas field off the west coast.

The other two owners of the project are Shell and Statoil and industry analysts said it would make sense for the two companies to buy out Marathon’s stake. Marathon’s interest in Corrib is financial only and it will not be operating the field.

In a statement, Marathon said the review of its assets could ultimately lead to a sale of the Irish business, if it received an acceptable offer. However, if an acceptable offer is not forthcoming, the firm said it would continue to operate the fields itself.

Source - The Sunday Business Post