Conoco Sheds Rocky Mountain Assets

Oil pumpjack
Oil pumpjack

In another asset sale intended to streamline the company's project portfolio, ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) announced that it had sold its properties in the Cedar Creek Anticline area of North Dakota and Montana to Denbury Resources Inc. (NYSE: DNR) for $1.05 billion. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2013.

The sale brings Conoco's total asset sales to about $12 billion since the beginning of 2012. The Cedar Creek properties were not in Conoco's capital spending plans for 2013, even though the company averaged 13,000 barrels a day of production from the 86,000 acres. Conoco specifically said that today's sale does not include any of the company's assets in the Bakken shale play, where Conoco holds 626,000 net acres.

Conoco said the proceeds from this and other divestitures will be used for general corporate purposes and to continue funding for "existing growth programs and [to] capture new opportunities for the future."

For its part, Denbury said it would fund the purchase from the proceeds of its December sale of some Bakken assets to Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM). Denbury estimates that the conventional oil reserves in the properties acquired today total approximately 42 million barrels of oil equivalent, of which 95% is oil and the rest natural gas liquids.

Denbury has chosen to focus less on exploration and more on enhanced recovery from existing conventional oil fields. For one thing, it's a lot cheaper and the payoff comes sooner. Here's the company's CEO:

We estimate that CO2 flooding these newly acquired and to-be-acquired properties … will allow us to recover a combined estimated 140 million to 185 million barrels of otherwise stranded oil. Also, these assets currently produce almost as much oil equivalent as our divested Bakken area assets while generating substantially more free cash flow. … The acquisition of additional assets in [the Cedar Creek Anticline] should allow us to benefit from economies of scale and to leverage our technical knowledge and planned CO2 transportation infrastructure.

Conoco's shares are up about 0.2% just before noon today at $58.56 in a 52-week range of $50.62 to $78.29.

Denbury's shares are up 2.6% at $17.32 in a 52-week range of $13.13 to $21.37.

Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Commodities, Oil & Gas Tagged: COP, DNR, XOM

Originally published