Five months after StatoilHydro became the world's largest offshore operator, the Norwegian state-controlled oil and gas major has announced up to $1.8bn worth of acquisitions in Brazil and the Gulf of Mexico, as it compensates for declining reserves in the North Sea and looks to explore opportunities in other markets.

The company announced that it would be acquiring the remaining 50% stake that it doesn’t already own in the Peregrino offshore heavy oil fields in Brazil, from the Andarko Petroleum Corporation and is also buying the Texas-based company's 25% stake in the Kaskida deep water fields in the Gulf of Mexico, controlled by BP.

Brazil had been thrown into the energy spotlight after two major off-shore discoveries last year highlighted its massive potential for oil and gas exploration and Thomas Aarestad, an analyst at Pareto in Oslo, commented, “I think this is an acquisition that makes lots of sense as they are going into Brazil which has good prospectivity, lower taxes and is relatively stable.”

Fewer reserves in the North Sea have forced StatoilHydro to aggressively seek international opportunities, particularly those that allow it to use its experience in harsh, offshore enviroments and in recovering heavy oil. The company has said it is looking for acquisitions in Alaska and last year became one of the operators of Shtokman in the Barent Sea off Russia, which is the world's largest natural gas field.