AWE Limited has sold equity stakes in two permits in the Bass Basin, offshore Australia, to Japan’s Toyota Tsusho Gas E&P Trefoil.

AWE sold an 11.25% interest in T/L1 and a 2.75% interest in T/18P to Toyota Tsusho in exchange for a cash consideration of A$80.1m ($82m).

Both permits lie in the Bass Strait: T/L1 contains the Yolla gas and condensate field, and T/18P has the Trefoil gas and condensate discovery.

AWE said the deal reduced its risk-exposure to the capital expenditure requirements for the BassGas mid-life enhancement project, providing an additional saving of A$40m ($41m).

On completion, AWE will hold a 46.25% interest in T/L1 and a 44.75% interest in T/18P, while Toyota Tsusho will have an 11.25% stake in both permits.

AWE managing director Bruce Clement said the company made a decision to reduce its equity interest in the Bass Basin in order to manage near-term capital requirements, better balance its asset portfolio, and free up capital for investment in future projects.

"The BassGas sale proceeds are earmarked for investment in future growth projects in the event of success in the company’s exciting tight gas and shale gas opportunities in Western Australia and its conventional gas targets in Indonesia, and in potential selective acquisitions," added Clement.

Furthermore, AWE also declared a 5¢ per share special dividend, which will be paid to shareholders on 20 January 2012.

Origin Energy is operator of both permits with a 42.5% interest in T/L1 and a 39% stake in T/L18P, while Acer Energy holds a 5% interest.