Norwegian oil company Statoil ASA said Monday it has agreed to buy Texas-based Brigham Exploration Co. for $4.4 billion in cash, giving it control of fields in North Dakota.
The offer represents $36.5 per share and is a 36 percent premium over the average trading price of Brigham stock for the last 30 days, Statoil said.
The Brigham board of directors has recommended shareholders to accept the offer and the executives of the company have agreed to sell their shares, representing 2.5 percent of the total, Statoil said.
It said the deal will give it more than 375,000 net acres in the Williston Basin, which holds potential for oil production from the Bakken and Three Forks formations in North Dakota. Brigham also holds interests in 40,000 net acres in other areas.
The current production is approximately 21,000 barrels of oil equivalents per day, and could potentially ramp up to 60,000-100,000 over five years, Statoil said.
"The U.S. unconventional plays hold a substantial resource base and represent an increasingly important part of future energy supplies," Statoil CEO Helge Lund said in a statement.
"Entering the Bakken and Three Forks tight oil plays and taking on operatorship represents a new significant step for Statoil. We are positioning ourselves as a leading player in the fast growing U.S. onshore oil and gas industry, in line with the strategic direction we have set out," he said.
Brigham is based in Austin, Texas and has over 100 employees in Austin and North Dakota. Statoil said it will maintain the Austin location and retain the current employees.
"We are impressed by the performance and technological prowess demonstrated by the employees of Brigham and look forward to further responsible development of these world class assets. We will build on Brigham's good neighbor program and continue to engage with local authorities and communities in the Williston Basin area," said Bill Maloney, executive vice president for Statoil in North America.
The Norwegian company said it expects to close the transaction at the end of the first quarter 2012.