Swiss-based petrochemical and refining company Ineos is looking to expand into North Sea oil and gas production by hiring a number of senior and mid-level staff, its website showed on Monday.
The post of CEO of the new offshore oil and gas business has a remit “for leading a strategic review to support the INEOS entry into North Sea production, culminating in investment recommendations to the main INEOS board,” the website said.
Up until now, few downstream participants have shown an interest in moving into capital intensive offshore oil and gas production, but this is starting to change.
Refiners and petrochemical companies are seen as potential new entrants to the market because upstream offers them an opportunity to secure crude supplies and offset some of the peaks and troughs of the oil product price cycle.
INEOS declined to comment on the plans for upstream expansion.
The company also said last week it plans to spend up to $1 billion on shale gas exploration in the United Kingdom.
INEOS co-owns the Grangemouth refinery and wholly owns the associated petrochemical plant in Scotland, which is supplied by North Sea oil and gas, as well as a plant in Norway and numerous other chemical plants around Europe.
It has already outlined plans to import ethane derived from shale gas from the United States as well as looking to find new sources of shale gas from sites around the United Kingdom.
Other posts advertised for its new offshore operations include operations director, engineering manager and commercial manager, while it is also looking to hire graduates for on and offshore positions.
There are plenty of assets for sale in the UK North Sea but deal flow has been sluggish this year due to a mismatch between buyers and sellers.
“Investment in oil assets can bring stability to European refining margins,” said Hamza Khan, senior commodity strategist at ING, and author of a new report on the European refining industry. [ID: nL6N0TB3N3]
“You’re not at risk of getting caught short, or being as sensitive to fluctuations in prices.”
Hungarian refiner MOL has already entered the UK North Sea, acquiring Wintershall Norge’s non-operated assets late last year and Premier Oil’s interests in the Scott, Telford and Rochelle fields in the summer.