BP plans to sell stake in Alaska oil field to ConocoPhillips

BP is planning to sell its stake in a large northern Alaska oil field to ConocoPhillips and increase its holdings in an offshore oil field near the United Kingdom.

BP announced this week its intent to sell its entire 39 percent stake and related holdings in the Kuparuk field to ConocoPhillips and focus its Alaska operations on the Prudhoe Bay field, the Anchorage Daily News reported .

"In Alaska, this transaction will increase our focus on managing our deep resource base at the massive Prudhoe Bay oilfield and help enable a more competitive and sustainable business for BP," BP Upstream chief executive Bernard Looney said in a statement.

Should regulators approve the deal, ConocoPhillips' assets at Kuparuk will increase to 95 percent. Alaska could see benefits from the deal as ConocoPhillips has indicated efforts to increase production.

"We view this as great news," said Andy Mack, state Department of Natural Resources commissioner. "ConocoPhillips has demonstrated an appetite for continuing to invest heavily in Alaska. This has the potential to increase production in Alaska, which is good for our economy and good for our coffers."

The transaction should not significantly affect the company's employment numbers in the state, said Dawn Patience, a spokeswoman with BP in Alaska. BP has more than 1,600 direct employees in the state.

"The state of Alaska will see little change, since the operators of the fields remain the same," Patience said. "The state will continue to collect taxes and royalties from production."

BP plans to buy a 16.5 percent stake from ConocoPhillips in the Clair field in the North Sea near the United Kingdom, boosting its holdings to 45 percent.

The transactions are expected to go through this year, pending approval from regulators, Patience said.