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CH4 sold to Venture

3i, Europe's leading private equity and venture capital company, today announces the sale of its portfolio company CH4 Energy Limited (CH4), a privately owned, UK headquartered E&P company to Venture Production plc for €224m (£153m).

3i has been involved with CH4 since its start-up in 2002.  3i provided the initial start up capital followed by further funding and strategic support as CH4 developed its portfolio of infrastructure, exploration, development and production assets.

CH4''s operations are concentrated in the southern North Sea gas basin where it holds an operated interest in the Markham field and the Chiswick development; which is due to come on stream in the first quarter 2007.  In addition, CH4 has interests in the producing Windemere and J/3c fields, both of which have been developed as tie-backs to the Markham field.  Venture is also acquiring CH4''s 25% interest in the ETS pipeline system in the Southern North Sea, currently used by the Trent, Tyne and Tors fields.

Colin Burnett, Investment Director with 3i''s Oil, Gas & Power team commented: "3i has been instrumental in developing CH4 from a start-up business into an E&P business with a diverse asset portfolio.  We backed a strong management team that shared a vision with 3i.  We are proud of what the CH4 team has achieved in a short period - the development of Chiswick is an example of how CH4''s focus has delivered results - from standing start in January 2006, Chiswick will produce its first gas by the first quarter of 2007.  I believe this is a North Sea record and is testimony to the management and culture of the company.

"We believe that CH4 is a compelling fit for Venture.  It will cement its position as the UK''s foremost North Sea independent.  3i was also a founding shareholder in Venture where we were pivotal to the early development of the business until its IPO in 2002.   Venture has a good quality asset base and is a well managed company."

Commenting on the sale, Phil Kirk & Mark Routh, ex-Joint Managing Directors of CH4 said: "We''re very proud of what the CH4 team has achieved with 3i''s help and pleased that Venture will be taking our vision forward.  The fit with the Venture portfolio is excellent in terms of both geography and people and we wish the organisation every success in the future."


Notes to editors

About 3i 
3i is a world leader in private equity and venture capital. We focus on Buyouts, Growth Capital and Venture Capital and invest across Europe, in the United States and in Asia Pacific.  Our competitive advantage comes from our international network and the strength and breadth of our relationships in business. These underpin the value that we deliver to our portfolio and to our shareholders.

3i has funded 24% of all European oil & gas private equity deals in the last three years and manages an investment portfolio of more than 35 companies in the exploration and production (E&P) and service sectors.

The current oil & gas portfolio includes Vetco International (ABB''s former upstream oil and gas business); EDP, an oilfield development project manager; Noreco, an E&P company focussed on the Norwegian Continental Shelf; Salamander Energy, an E&P company focused on South East Asia and Finnish oil spill response company Lamor Corporation. 

Previous investments include Petrofac, the international oil and gas facilities service provider, which floated in October 2005; Revus Energy, the independent Norwegian upstream company, which floated in June 2005; John Wood Group plc, the UK''s largest oil service company, which was floated in 2002; Venture Production plc, one of the UK continental shelf''s newest operators, also floated in 2002; and Sensa, an oilfield technology company sold to Schlumberger.

CH4 Energy Limited
. London and Hoofddorp (near Amsterdam) based, UK independent gas producer, focused on the UK and Dutch sectors of the North Sea
. Privately held company established in May 2002 as a southern North Sea gas business and built through five separate acquisition
. Balanced portfolio of producing, development, processing, transport and exploration asset
. Employs seven staff and contractors in London, 35 in Hoofddorp in the Netherlands and 32 staff and contractors offshore.

Venture Production plc
. Aberdeen based, UK independent oil and gas producer, focused on the North Sea
. Listed on the London Stock Exchange with a market capitalisation of approximately £950 million
. Net average production guidance for 2006 of 40,000 to 42,000 boepd
. Proved and Probable Reserves of 161 MMboe (at 31 December 2005)

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