By Ron Bousso and Shadia Nasralla
LONDON (Reuters) - Private equity-backed oil firm Chrysaor has hired advisers ahead of talks to buy Chevron's British North Sea oil and gas fields for over $2.5 billion, industry and banking sources said.
Chrysaor has signed up investment banks Jefferies and BMO for the discussions as a deadline for bids approaches before Christmas, the four sources said.
Chevron said earlier this year it was selling its assets in the central North Sea, which are expected to fetch around $1.5 billion.
Chrysaor and Chevron are also discussing the sale of part or all of the U.S. group's 19.4 percent stake in the BP-operated Clair field, the largest oilfield in the British North Sea, which was not originally up for grabs, the sources said.
The Clair stake could easily fetch $1 billion, they said.
A Chevron spokeswoman said the company does not comment on industry speculation or commercial matters.
Asked about interest in its Clair stake, she said: "While we continue to evaluate our portfolio we are progressing the Clair projects."
Chrysaor, Jefferies and BMO declined to comment.
Chevron's shares were down 0.9 percent at 1436 GMT, compared with a 0.3 percent decline for the broader sector index.
Chevron's net daily production in the North Sea in 2017 averaged 50,000 barrels of oil and 155 million cubic feet of natural gas, according to its website.
The California-based company kicked off in July the sale of its central North Sea oil and gas fields Alba, Alder, Captain, Elgin/Franklin, Erskine and Jade as well as the Britannia platform and its satellites.
On Tuesday, Chevron said Britain's Oil and Gas Authority had approved its development plans for the Captain field.
In October, Chevron sold its 40 percent stake in the Rosebank development to Norway's Equinor.
Selling the central North Sea assets as well as the Clair stake would effectively mark Chevron's full exit from the ageing UK North Sea basin after over 50 years.
Chevron has in recent years focused its efforts on rapidly growing its shale production in the Permian basin in Texas as well as the giant Tengiz field in Kazakhstan.
Chrysaor, backed by Harbour Energy, an investment vehicle of EIG Global Energy Partners, became one of the largest North Sea producers after buying $3 billion of oil and gas fields from Royal Dutch Shell in 2017.
With its current portfolio, Chrysaor expects daily production averaging 120,000-130,000 barrels of oil equivalent until 2020.
(Reporting By Ron Bousso and Shadia Nasralla; Editing by Jane Merriman and Dale Hudson)