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Canada’s Talisman Energy Inc. will pick up $1.5 billion after it sells a 49% stake in its U.K. North Sea business to China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. (Sinopec).

Calgary, Alberta-based Talisman said the move brings total asset-sale proceeds this year to $2.5 billion and will enable it to fund growth areas in its energy portfolio. Talisman will use $500 million of the proceeds to buy back shares.

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Talisman, Canada’s No. 6 oil and gas exploration company, will form a joint venture with Sinopec to operate the assets, which produced 89,000 barrels per day of oil and 43 million cubic feet per day of natural gas in the first quarter of 2012.

Talisman had said it wanted to sell non-core assets to help strengthen its balance sheet in the face of weak North American gas prices, and has twice this year cut its 2012 capital-spending plans, most recently to $3.6 billion from $4 billion.

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Under the deal, Sinopec will buy 49% of the shares of Talisman’s U.K. North Sea business. The deal will be effective Jan. 1, 2012, and the transaction should close by the end of this year.

The joint venture will invest to improve operating performance, as well as exploration opportunities and major projects, thereby extending field life and deferring decommissioning, Talisman added.

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