Marathon Oil sets sights on U.S.

As a result of rising pressure to invest more heavily into onshore production in the United States, Houston-based Marathon Oil has decided to sell its North Sea oil business to a Norwegian oil producer. The company will receive $2.1 billion, as well as a more streamlined asset portfolio, according to the New York Times.

The oil and gas industries in the United States have undergone a boom in the past ten years, making Marathon's investors and other stakeholders eager to refocus efforts domestically. 

Since 2011, Marathon has undergone enormous change. They have sold various assets, together earning roughly $6.2 billion for the company. The New York Times reports that the company intends to reinvest that money into a combination of shale oil investments and share buybacks. 

"Strategically we like this decision, as it frees Marathon from high-decline assets in a high-tax region, resulting in a greater overall growth rate and improved after-tax margins," writes Morningstar analyst Allen Good in a news release. "Consequently, it should be more competitive on those two measures relative to its E&P peers, and create a more pure-play domestic E&P which may prove more attractive to investors."

However, the deal must still be approved by regulating agencies, and a decision is not expected until the fourth quarter. According to company reports, Marathon Oil is also interested in selling its British North Sea operations, but has "received no acceptable offer."

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