BP to exit Alaska in $5.6bn deal

The move is part of oil company's $10bn divestment programme

British oil giant BP announced Tuesday it will sell all of its Alaska operations for $5.6bn, exiting the state after 60 years to help meet divestment goals. The local firm Hilcorp Alaska will acquire the BP assets, including operations in the mammoth Prudhoe Bay oilfield, BP said in a statement.

The sale, which is due to be completed next year, is part of BP's $10bn divestment programme to help the company shore up its balance sheet. Projects elsewhere in the world are considered better suited to BP's long-term strategy and were thus "more competitive for our investment," BP chief Bob Dudley said in the statement.

"Our exit from Alaska does not in any way diminish BP's commitment to America," he insisted.

The sale to Hilcorp involves a $4bn payment up front, with the remainder coming in earnout payments over time. Meanwhile, in June, the company said it would sell assets in Egypt's Gulf of Suez to a Dubai firm for an undisclosed sum.

 The British oil major first entered oil-rich Alaska in 1959 - the same year it officially became a US state - and helped construct the 1,300-kilometer Trans-Alaska Pipeline. The company, however posted last month a 35% drop in quarterly profits due to falling oil prices.

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