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Marubeni Corp. could all but exit the U.K. North Sea as it looks to sell its main oil and gas fields in the region, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The Tokyo-based company is working with Jefferies Financial Group Inc. on the sale of its non-operated stake in the MonArb area, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is confidential. A disposal would follow the retreat of other Japanese firms — and several international oil majors — from the aging basin to focus on larger operations elsewhere.

The MonArb asset, which lies in the Central North Sea, comprises the Montrose, Arbroath, Arkwright, Brechin, Wood, Godwin, Cayley and Shaw fields, according to data from Wood Mackenzie Ltd. Marubeni holds a 41% interest in the area, while Repsol Sinopec Resources is the operator and owns the remaining stake, according to the U.K. Oil & Gas Authority (OGA).

Japanese producers such as Idemitsu Kosan Co. and Itochu Corp. have exited the North Sea in recent years. If Marubeni’s sale goes through, JX Nippon Exploration & Production and Mitsui & Co. will be the only Japanese oil companies with interests in producing fields there, OGA data show.

Marubeni also owns 5% to 8% stakes in the North Sea Columba fields, which together produce about 3,500 barrels of oil equivalent a day. It’s unclear whether these deposits have also been offered for sale.

A spokesperson at Marubeni declined to comment. Jefferies also declined to comment.

The MonArb fields produced 24,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day in the first three quarters of 2020, according to the OGA. Marubeni’s interest equates to almost 10,000 barrels a day.

Binding bids are due in March, the people said.

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