(Adds Maersk Oil comment, background on exploration)
COPENHAGEN, Sept 9 (Reuters) - Maersk Oil, a unit of Denmark’s A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S, has proposed the sale of a part of its stake in the deepwater Chissonga project in Angola, Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten reported, citing sources familiar with the process.
Chissonga lies in 1,500 metres of water, making it an expensive deepwater oil development project. Oil companies can reduce stakes in such projects to share costs, although that also means sharing the eventual profits from production.
A.P. Moller-Maersk Chief Executive Nils Andersen signalled in August that a sale could be on the cards, although not quite so soon.
“We do have a high operating share in Angola and it could be natural to reduce that at a point in time,” Andersen told an analysts’ conference call for Maersk’s second-quarter results.
That tallies with Maersk Oil’s comments on Tuesday.
“We remain committed to developing the Chissonga field and expect a profitable project. Our ownership in Chissonga is high. We will consider reducing our interest when the project has matured further and the timing is right,” it said in an email.
Maersk Oil has a 65 percent stake in the block where Chissonga was discovered in 2009 with over 100 million barrels of oil. Chissonga, due to produce its first oil in 2017-18, is one of the key projects that will help the company increase oil production 50 percent by 2020.
The newspaper did not say what size stake Maersk Oil wanted to sell.
Maersk Oil has said it is slowing its exploration globally and virtually ceasing it in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico and Brazil. The geology offshore Brazil is similar to that of Angola as the continents had once been joined.
The company has enough reserves to produce oil for 4.6 years at its current rate, below an average of 5-10 years for its peers, which include Hess, Nexen and Marathon Oil.
To increase the reserves-to-production ratio the company would either have to increase its exploration or acquire reserves by buying other oil fields, something which the company said it would consider.
Reporting by Sabina Zawadzki; editing by Susan Thomas