Laidlaw launches new £3.3bn oil and gas buyout fund

Neptune Oil and Gas will invest in North Sea, South East Asia and North African oil and gas assets in new venture for former Centrica boss

Former Centrica boss Sam Laidlaw has unveiled his new venture aimed at snapping up oil and gas assets in North Africa, South East Asia and the North Sea with a £3.3bn war chest.

The new company, called Neptune Oil and Gas, will be funded by Carlyle Group and CVC Capital Partners.

Mr Laidlaw said that private equity houses shared his “enthusiasm to invest in building a new oil & gas company and to create significant value for our stakeholders at this pivotal time for the industry”.

Oil prices, which have fallen 40pc since last June, have opened up an opportunity to snap up petroleum assets on the cheap as major producers seek to offload unwanted fields and smaller players struggle to cope with prices below US$100 per barrel.

Last year Royal Dutch Shell placed three of its North Sea assets up for sale. The company announced the sale of its Sean asset last week, but is yet to find a buyer for the other two. The UK’s major offshore region is under severe strain from high operating costs which have left many operators struggling while oil trades at around US$65 per barrel.

North Sea will be a focus for Neptune investment vehicle

Rob Lucas, managing partner at CVC, said: “We have known Sam Laidlaw for many years and believe the timing is now favourable to pursue this venture in partnership with Sam and Carlyle.”

Eton and Cambridge educated, Mr Laidlaw is the son of former BP chairman Sir Christopher Laidlaw. He stepped down as the chief executive of Centrica – owner of British Gas – last year after eight years. Mr Laidlaw was credited with re-focusing the UK energy giant after he arrived from Chevron, where he was head of business development. –

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