Moves being made by Exxon Mobil Corp. and ConocoPhillips highlight some of the trends shaping majors’ strategies—and those of U.S. majors in particular. Both companies have been on a push to sell assets worth billions of dollars, while stepping up spending and drilling in certain core regions that they expect to drive growth in the coming years. Moves by both firms also illustrate how the mature North Sea has fallen out of favor, as their focus shifts increasingly to domestic assets, and in large part to shale.

In August, Reuters reported that Exxon Mobil was holding talks on a sale of some or all of its UK North Sea assets, citing sources familiar with the matter. No further details of such a move have emerged as yet, but on Sept. 26, the major announced a deal to sell its Norwegian North Sea assets to Var Energi for $4.5 billion. This forms part of an Exxon Mobil plan to sell about $15 billion worth of “non-strategic” assets by 2021.

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