Statoil completes deal to purchase Brigham Exploration

Norweigan oil giant Statoil completed its deal today to acquiring Austin-based Brigham Exploration for $4.4 billion in cash, giving it a foothold in the U.S.’s Bakken shale.

The transaction gives Statoil more than 375,000 net acres in the Williston Basin, which holds potential for oil production from the Bakken and Three Forks formations. Brigham also holds interests in 40,000 net acres in other areas.

The Norwegian company had offered $36.50 a share in an all-cash tender offer in mid-October.

“This transaction underpins Statoil’s strategy for growth,” Statoil’s Chief Executive Officer, Helge Lund, said in a statement. “Brigham brings a highly talented team and a first class onshore asset to our growing North American activities, and we are excited to include their competence, operational capacity and attractive position in the Williston Basin as we expand our investments in US onshore plays.”

Statoil has been trying to expand its U.S. footprint aggressively, having taken a big stake in Texas’ Eagle Ford shale this year.

Earlier this month, Statoil announced a $38 billion plan with Total to expand in the North Sea.

Last fall, Statoil inked a deal to pay pay $1.3 billion for properties in the Eagle Ford shale formation and team up with Canada’s Talisman Energy to develop them. Two years earlier, it paid roughly the same amount for a stake in Marcellus shale properties in the Northeast U.S. operated by Chesapeake Energy.

Statoil is among a number of foreign oil companies including France’s Total, China’s Cnooc and Australia’s BHP Billiton that are paying huge sums to enter U.S. shale rock formations.

Last month, Statoil said it would give $5 million over five years to the University of Texas at Austin to fund research in geology, petroleum engineering and other areas of interest for the Norwegian oil company.

The agreement was the biggest of its kind outside Norway for Statoil, which is two-thirds owned by the Norwegian government, and the donation builds on a relationship that the two institutions have had for many years, Statoil said.