BP said selling Cats will allow the firm to focus on development of other projects in the North Sea region

BP sells stake in North Sea pipeline

Oil giant BP has said it will sell its stake in the Central Area Transmission System (Cats), which delivers natural gas from the central North Sea to England, to the majority owner, Antin Infrastructure Partners.

BP currently operates the 404km long pipeline and an adjacent processing facility. It will receive £324m for the transaction.

The firm said the new owner will ensure a better future for the key piece of North Sea infrastructure and that the sale was in line with recommendations of the complex review of the North Sea oil and gas sector led by Sir Ian Wood, published in February last year.

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

The sale, Garlick said, would allow BP to focus on completion of projects in the central North Sea and Shetland area, which are part of a £7bn investment programme.

As part of the transaction, Cats staff will be transferred to Antin Infrastructure Partners to ensure continuity of the operations, said Garlick.

Cats, currently transporting some 48 million cubic metres of natural gas each day, was built in the early 1990s. The pipeline transports approximately eight per cent of UK gas.

BP said the agreement comprises a payment on completion of £302m and a deferred amount of £22m, subject to certain adjustments. The sale is expected to be completed by the end of 2015.

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