UK’s richest man looks to increase stake in North Sea oil


Andy Buchanan | AFP | Getty Images

Jim Ratcliffe visits the Ineos oil refinery in Grangemouth, Scotland.

The U.K.’s wealthiest man, Jim Ratcliffe, could soon hold a larger influence over North Sea oil, with his company in exclusive negotiations with ConocoPhillips for its British assets.

ConocoPhillips confirmed to CNBC via email Monday that it was in talks with Ineos about the purchase of its assets, excluding the Teesside Oil Terminal and its London Commercial Trading organization. The company declined to comment further on the negotiations.

According to reports from the BBC, the assets that could be taken over by Ineos include a 6.5 percent stake in the Clair field, which lies 46 miles west of the Shetland Islands and has a reported 7 billion barrels of oil in place.

The assets ConocoPhillips is putting up for sale are reported to be worth up to $3 billion.

Ineos CEO Ratcliffe topped 2018’s Sunday Times Rich List, an annual ranking of the U.K.’s wealthiest people. The newspaper reported the tycoon to be worth more than £21 billion ($27 billion) when it published the list in May.

Ratcliffe owns Grangemouth oil refinery in Scotland, and his firm has already acquired a number of North Sea gas fields.

BP bought a 16.5 percent stake in the Clair oil field in July, giving the oil giant a 45 percent hold over the field. That stake was also purchased from ConocoPhillips.

A spokesperson for Ineos was not available for comment when contacted by CNBC.

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