Chevron To Buy Anadarko For $33 Billion In Shale Push

Reuters

(Reuters) — Chevron Corporation on Friday said it will buy oil and gas producer Anadarko Petroleum Corp. for US$33 billion in cash and stock in a deal that doubles down on its bet on U.S. shale and propels the company into the ranks of the world’s “supermajor” crude producers.

The deal makes Chevron the second-largest major by crude production, behind Exxon Mobil Corporation, up from fourth. It expands Chevron’s role in two areas where U.S. energy output is surging — shale from the Permian Basin of west Texas and New Mexico, and liquefied natural gas (LNG) — which have helped make the U.S. one of the world's largest energy exporters.

“Chevron now joins the ranks of the UltraMajors — and the big three becomes the big four,” said Roy Martin, senior analyst at consultants Wood Mackenzie. “The acquisition makes the majors’ peer group much more polarized. Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Shell and BP are now in a league of their own.”

U.S. crude production stands at a record 12 million bbls/d, and the nation is the third-largest producer of LNG, the super-cooled fuel that is seeing record demand as a cheaper, cleaner alternative for countries that still rely heavily on coal for power generation.

Chevron’s pledge to restrain expenditures has make it a favourite among energy stocks, with its shares up 13.8 per cent this year. It plans to sell some $15 billion in assets over time to offset the Anadarko deal. Still, investors sent Chevron shares down 5.2 per cent to $119.44 on Friday.

Chevron chief executive Mike Wirth called the deal a “great fit” for the company. “This is really about creating shareholder value,” Wirth said in an interview. "It's a great combination. That's what drives this.”

The deal is the oil industry's largest since Royal Dutch Shell plc bought BG Group in 2016, and it sparked speculation that other shale producers are in play. Shares of Apache Corporation, which also has extensive acreage in the Permian Basin, rose 1.8 per cent, while Pioneer Natural Resources jumped nine per cent.

With oil prices surging this year, Chevron and larger rival Exxon Mobil have been increasing investment in the Permian Basin, the most prolific shale oil field in the country.

Their efforts coincide with a pullback by the smaller companies that revolutionized the industry through advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracking. They have had to curtail spending due to investor dissatisfaction with weak returns.

Chevron, which already has 2.3 million acres in the Permian Basin, said the Anadarko deal would give the combined company a 120-kilometre-wide corridor across the Permian's Delaware basin, on the Texas-New Mexico border.

“We will now see Chevron emerging as the clear leader among all Permian players, both in terms of production growth and as a cost leader,” said Rystad Energy head of analysis Per Magnus Nysveen, noting that Anadarko’s acreage is in the “sweetest spot” of the Permian’s Delaware Basin.

Anadarko also has a Mozambique LNG project, part of one of the industry’s largest planned current investments, which Wirth said he still expects to move to final approval “sooner rather than later” this year. Expenses from that project are expected to reach $4 billion over several years.

The tie-up with Anadarko adds to Chevron’s deepwater investments in the Gulf of Mexico and gives it a stake in growing oil and gas production in the U.S. Rocky Mountains in Colorado.

At the end of 2018, Exxon and Chevron accounted for about one-fifth of Permian output, where producers pump around 4 million bbls/d currently. IHS Markit expects it to hit 5.4 million bbls/d in 2023, more than the total production of any OPEC country other than Saudi Arabia.

“It will be a continuous shift toward larger companies in basically all segments of the shale industry,” said Artem Abramov, head of shale research for Rystad Energy.

Shares of Anadarko surged 32 per cent Friday morning, reflecting the 39 per cent premium offered by Chevron compared to Thursday’s closing market price. The $65 per share offer was structured as 75 per cent stock and 25 percent cash. The deal includes taking on $15 billion of Anadarko’s debt.

Occidental Petroleum Corp., another company with assets in the Permian, bid more than $70 per share for Anadarko and is now considering options, sources said.

Majors claiming share

Chevron, Exxon, Royal Dutch Shell and BP plc largely missed out on the first phase of the shale bonanza, when more nimble independent producers such as Anadarko pioneered shale drilling technology and leased Permian acreage on the cheap.

However, oil majors including BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon have stepped up shale acquisitions to tap the fast returns available from these fields. Analysts have been predicting another wave of shale consolidation as smaller shale producers seek economics of scale and react to the majors’ entry.

Chevron said the deal would add to its free cash flow and profit one year after closing, if Brent crude, currently around $70, holds above $60 per bbl.

Chevron also said it plans to raise annual share buybacks to $5 billion from $4 billion when the deal closes, and to sell $15 billion to $20 billion of assets between 2020 and 2022.

The enterprise value of the deal is $50 billion.

Under the terms of the agreement, Anadarko shareholders will receive 0.3869 shares of Chevron and $16.25 in cash for each Anadarko share.

Wirth will lead the combined company after the deal closes. Chevron will remain headquartered in San Ramon, California.

Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC is Chevron’s financial adviser, while Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP is its legal adviser.

Evercore and Goldman Sachs are financial advisers to Anadarko, while Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz and Vinson & Elkins LLP are its legal advisers.

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