Yet another major oil company has backed away from one of the frontier oil discoveries of the late 20th century that not only cushioned them from OPEC, but helped them learn to drill in some of the most difficult areas of the globe.
After six decades, BP has officially exited Alaska with the sale of its business there for $5.6 billion to Hilcorp Energy, according to Bloomberg. The deal makes Hilcorp the second largest producer in the state behind ConocoPhillips. The deal includes BP’s stake in Prudhoe Bay, which is the largest producing oil field in U.S. history. It also includes BP’s Alaskan pipelines.
Alaska, meanwhile, is receding into a second tier oil province as a result of field depletion, cost-cutting and the rise of shale. The state’s oil output has slumped from its peak in the 1980s, as discoveries have dried up and major producers seek to produce crude elsewhere, most recently from shale in Texas.
Hilcorp and ConocoPhillips are two of the few big remaining oil companies still interested in investing fresh capital in Alaska.
Oswald Clint, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd. said:
“The divestment prov[es] that no asset is sacred even if it is 60 years old and synonymous with the company. We see the transaction as a positive catalyst, which should help the shares recover lost ground this year.”
The divestiture includes BP’s stake in the Trans-Alaskan pipeline system, which has been running below capacity for years as a result of declining oil production. Wood Mackenzie, Ltd. values the asses at a “slight premium” to the $5.6 billion purchase price, almost 1/3 of which will be paid subject to production over time. It’s a strategic move for BP, as the company looks to shift more towards shale basins and natural gas.
Jason Gammel, an analyst at Jefferies LLC, said:
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