By Geoffrey Smith
June 2, 2014

Houston-based Marathon Oil (MRO) said Monday it has agreed to sell its Norwegian operations for $2.1 billion in a move that will free up resources for investing in its US projects, and for its ongoing stock buyback program.

However, the company is set to remain a player in the region, after failing to find a buyer for its assets in the UK sector of the North Sea. Marathon had put both businesses on the block in December 2013, as part of a general shift away from mature and declining fields to the development of new projects, particularly in “unconventional” oil plays in the US.

In a statement released early Monday, Marathon said the assets it had sold to the Norwegian independent company Det norske oljeselskap ASA included the Alvheim floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel, 10 Company-operated licenses and a number of non-operated licenses on the Norwegian Continental Shelf in the North Sea.

It produced an average of 80,000 barrels of oil a day from these assets last year. Marathon president and chief executive Lee M. Tillman said in a statement that the company would be “resolute” in using the proceeds to maximum effect.

“Marathon Oil has a deep inventory across three high-quality U.S. resource plays with expanding opportunities to further accelerate activity,” Tillman said. “Such organic growth will be our first priority for additional capital allocation, with the balance available for share repurchases under our remaining $1.5 billion board authorisation and general corporate purposes.”

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