Oil and gas firm Kuwait Energy is in talks to merge with SOCO International, an oil and gas exploration and production company listed on the London Stock Exchange.

The potential merger would provide a way for the Kuwaiti company to go public after it failed last year to complete an initial public offer of its shares on the London exchange, through which it hoped to raise about $150 million.

SOCO, with a market capitalisation of about $500 million, had $132 million in cash as of September last year. Kuwait Energy had $43 million in cash at the end of September.

The transaction would be a merger of equals, two companies with very similar size and operations, but different geographic exposures.

KUWAIT ENERGY PLC was founded as an energy company in 2005. The company operates in the exploration, development, and production of hydrocarbons. Its  portfolio includes 10 oil and gas assets in Egypt, Iraq, Yemen, and Oman of which it operates 7 assets. As of March 31, 2017, the company had reserves of 818 million barrels of oil equivalent.

SOCO INTERNATIONAL PLC is an international oil and gas exploration and production company, headquartered in London. The company has interests in Vietnam, the Republic of Congo and Angola. The CEO, Ed Story, focused the company on international gas and oil exploration and production, and the company soon held assets in Mongolia, Tunisia, Yemen and Thailand. In 2008 the company agreed to sell its operations in Yemen to Sinochem for $465 million. In 2010 the company agreed to sell its Thailand assets to UK listed Salamander Energy for $105m.