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Exclusive: Exxon seeks to sell its stake in giant Azeri oil field - sources

Reuters  |  LONDON 

By and Ron Bousso

LONDON (Reuters) - is seeking to sell its stake inAzerbaijan's largest field, once dubbed the "contract of thecentury", as the U.S. and gas giant re-focuses its globaloperations, industry and sources said.

Exxon is hoping to raise up to $2 billion from the sale ofits 6.8 percent in the Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli (ACG) field in theCaspian Sea, according to the sources.

Exxon declined to comment, saying"we don't comment on market rumours or speculation". A for Azerbaijan's company said: "The report is about Exxon and there is no need for to get involved."

The sale would mark the end of a 25-year journey. Exxon was among five U.S. companies that helped create Azerbaijan's current soon after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and signing the deal in 1994.

The deal was dubbed by and partners as the "the contract of the century" thanks to the field's large reserves and hopes of future major discoveries that would help diversify away from Russian

Even though the project is operated by British oil major BP, it had received substantial support and a total of five American companies initially participated in the deal, including Exxon, Amoco, Unocal, and McDermott.

said it had no information about Exxon's plans.

The project received particular Western support due to hopes it would help cut Europe's reliance on Russian energy, but those hopes faded as new large discoveries failed to materialise.

Most U.S. companies sold out of the project or were acquired by rivals, while U.S. support to the also shrank.

also became more assertive in controlling its wealth by building up large stakes in its projects via state company

If Exxon was to sell out of ACG, it would leave as the only U.S. company in the project, with a stake of 9.57 percent, the third largest after and Socar, with 30.4 and 25 percent respectively.

The ACG fields still account for the lion's share of Azeri They produced around three quarters of overallAzeri crude output, or nearly 600,000 barrels per day, in the first half of 2018.

Other ACG consortium members include Japan's with 9.3 percent and Norway's with 7.3 percent. Turkey's TPAO, Japan's Itochu, and India's have smaller stakes.

Exxon has in recent years increasingly focused on developing shale fields in the United States, as well as astring of in

(Additional reporting by Margarita Antidze; Writing by Dmitry Zhdannikov; Editing by and Kirsten Donovan)

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, December 04 2018. 19:33 IST