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Hungarian oil and gas firm MOL Group will buy Ithaca Petroleum Norge (IPN) from Ithaca Energy, as a foray into the Norwegian market.

IPN has a portfolio of 14 licences in the North Sea area of the Norwegian Continental Shelf.

The company posted a loss of NOK143.4m in 2014.

MOL will initially pay $60m to acquire IPN’s assets. An additional $30m would be paid depending on exploration success from the existing licence portfolio.

Subject to the approval of the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, the transaction is expected to be completed in the third quarter.

With estimated prospective resources of 600 million barrels of oil equivalent, MOL expects the transaction to give it a good start in Norway.

Three wells are due to be drilled by next year.

MOL plans to buy more assets and licenses in the country.

"Entering Norway as one of the most investor-friendly countries is an important milestone in our E&P Strategy."

MOL Group executive vice-president for upstream Alexander Dodds said: "Entering Norway as one of the most investor-friendly countries is an important milestone in our E&P Strategy.

"It enhances our positions in the lower-risk offshore North Sea area, where we are in the process of building a new production hub and know-how centre along the whole E&P value chain, that should serve as a solid basis to our long term goals in the region."

MOL currently has production operations in eight countries and exploration assets in 13.

The Norwegian assets were acquired by Ithaca in 2013, with the purchase of Valiant Petroleum.

Ithaca Energy CEO Les Thomas said: "The sale provides Ithaca with the right opportunity to now monetise the value of this non-core part of the company, while retaining upside exposure to the anticipated drilling programme over the next two years."


Image: MOL Group’s exploration and production facility in North Sea. Photo: courtesy of MOL Group.