By John Benny and Jennifer Hiller April 12 (Reuters) – Chevron Corp on Friday said it will buy Anadarko Petroleum Corp for $33 billion in cash and stock as the company doubles down on its bet on U.S. shale oil and gas production, where the surge in output has made the United States the world’s largest energy producer.
With oil prices surging this year, Chevron and larger rival Exxon Mobil Corp have been increasing investment in the Permian basin in West Texas, the most prolific shale oil field in the country.
Their efforts coincide with a pullback by the smaller companies that revolutionized the industry through shale drilling, who have had to curtail spending due to investor dissatisfaction with weak returns.
The deal is the oil industry’s largest since Royal Dutch Shell bought BG Group in 2016, and it sparked speculation that other shale producers are in play. Shares of Apache Corp, which also has extensive acreage in the Permian Basin, jumped 7 percent in premarket trading, while Pioneer Natural Resources Co rose 6 percent.
U.S. crude oil production now surpasses 12 million barrels a day (bpd), and the nation is the third-largest producer of liquefied natural gas (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, which already has 2.3 million acres in the Permian Basin, said the deal to buy Anadarko would give the combined company a 75-mile (120-km)-wide corridor across the Permian’s Delaware basin, on the Texas-New Mexico border.
Anadarko also has a Mozambique LNG project, part of one of the industry’s largest planned current investments.
At the end of 2018, Exxon and Chevron accounted for about one-fifth of Permian output, where producers pump around 4 million barrels per day (bpd) currently. IHS Markit expects it to hit 5.4 million bpd 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.
Chevron shares fell 4 percent as investors weighed the cost of the deal, which includes taking on $15 billion of Anadarko’s debt.
Shares of Anadarko surged 33 percent, reflecting the 39 percent premium offered by Chevron compared to Thursday’s closing market price. The $65 per share offer was structured as 75 percent stock and 25 percent cash.
Occidental Petroleum Corp bid more than $70 per share for Anadarko and is now considering options, CNBC reported on Friday.
MAJORS CLAIMING SHALE
Chevron, Exxon, Royal Dutch Shell Plc and BP Plc largely missed out on the first phase of the shale bonanza while more nimble independent producers such as Anadarko pioneered shale drilling technology and leased Permian acreage on the cheap.
That has changed in recent years due to aggressive land purchases and expansion. Before this deal, Exxon, Chevron, Shell and BP held about 4.5 million acres in the Permian Basin, according to Drillinginfo.
Oil majors have also been on the M&A sidelines in recent years, but as they have ramped up shale drilling, there was expectation that majors would have to seek out acquisitions to help counter the oft-sharp declines experienced by shale wells.
“Chevron now joins the ranks of the UltraMajors – and the big three becomes the big four,” said Roy Martin, senior analyst at WoodMackenzie. The deal makes Chevron the second-largest producing major, up from the fourth, Martin said.
“The acquisition makes the Majors’ peer group much more polarized. ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell and BP are now in a league of their own.”
Last month, Chevron said it expects shale production from the basin to reach 600,000 barrels per day (bpd) by the end of next year.
The company 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 barrel.
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 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.
Chevron Chief Executive Michael 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.
(Reporting by John Benny and Shradha Singh in Bengaluru; Jennifer Hiller in Houston; David French Scott DiSavino, Jessica Resnick-Ault and Greg Roumeliotis in New York; Editing by Patrick Graham, Sriraj Kalluvila and Nick Zieminski)
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