UPDATE 2-Maersk to buy Brazil oil assets for $2.4 bln

* Agrees to buy Brazil assets from South Korea’s SK Energy

* Says to pay $2.4 bln for stakes in 3 offshore blocks

* Says gets access to production and growth potential

* Shares up 0.7 pct by 1249 GMT

(Adds details, CEO quotes, share price, byline)

By John Acher

COPENHAGEN, Dec 23 (BestGrowthStock) – Denmark’s A.P. Moller-Maersk
(MAERSKb.CO: ) has agreed to buy oil assets in Brazil from South
Korea’s SK Energy (096770.KS: ) for $2.4 billion to gain access to
current production and growth potential, Maersk said.

The Danish shipping and oil group’s Maersk Oil unit has
agreed with SK Energy to acquire SK do Brasil Ltda. on a cash
and debt-free basis, A.P. Moller-Maersk said on Thursday.

The acquisition gives Maersk Oil access to sizeable assets
offshore Brazil, one of the most prolific regions in the world
for oil exploration and production, the group said.

“The acquisition is consistent with our strategy as it will
transform Brazil into a core producing country for Maersk Oil,”
Maersk Oil Chief Executive Jakob Thomasen said in the statement.

“It fits in perfectly,” Thomasen told Reuters by telephone,
referring to Maersk Oil’s five existing exploration blocks which
are also in Brazil’s Campos Basin .

“We have a handful of blocks (off Brazil) — still only
exploration activities but good activities — and now we get
these blocks that are the best street addresses that you can
have in the oil business,” Thomasen said. “We believe there is a
lot of potential.”

The acquisition comprises three blocks, including a 40
percent stake in the Devon (DVN.N: )-operated Polvo field, a 20
percent stake in the Anadarko (APC.N: )-operated Wahoo discovery,
and a 27 percent stake in the Devon-operated Itaipu discovery,
Maersk said.

BP (BP.L: ) has bought Devon’s Brazil activities and will
become operator of those licences.

EXPLORATION POTENTIAL

Thomasen said the combination of existing production —
Maersk will get about 10,000 barrels per day of oil from the
Polvo field — and long-term exploration potential was
particularly attractive.

“It offers immediate production and significant growth
potential as discoveries identified in the acreage are
appraised,” said Maersk which has been in Brazil since 2001.

“The Wahoo and Itaipu discoveries will be appraised in 2011
and first oil may be possible by 2016 and 2018, respectively,”
Maersk said. “Additional exploration prospectivity has been
observed in both these blocks, some of which is planned to be
tested in 2013.”

Thomasen said there was also potential for more activities
at Polvo but Maersk would need to analyse that possibility
further with its new partners.

A.P. Moller-Maersk Chief Executive Nils Smedegaard Andersen
told Reuters that the acquisition was fully funded from cash
flow and existing facilities.

Andersen declined to give any indication of the size of the
Wahoo and Itaipu discoveries, and said: “Nor do we know that
either, but it looks very promising.”

SK Energy said in a statement that the sale demonstrated a
shift in strategy to grow as a global major from an oil
development company.

“With liquidity to be achieved from this sale to Maersk, SK
Energy will seek various business opportunities such as
acquiring oil reserves at development and production stages, or
buying an overseas oil developing company,” it said.

SK Energy said separately it would sell its coal and
minerals business in Australia, China and Indonesia to SK
Networks (001740.KS: ) for 236.6 billion won ($205 million).

(Additional reporting by Cho Mee-young in Seoul and Ole
Mikkelsen in Copenhagen)
(Editing by Hans Peters and Jane Merriman)

UPDATE 2-Maersk to buy Brazil oil assets for $2.4 bln