Oil Industry Gears Toward Growth
Aug 27, 2016 - Multibillion-dollar oil and gas deals are back on the table.
More than $11 billion of transactions were announced globally in July, as crude’s recovery fueled hopes of a steadier market, Wood Mackenzie Ltd. said. That’s the highest monthly total this year and brings the amount since May to $32 billion, triple that of the previous three months. Deal-making will continue to accelerate as oil prices stabilize, according to the consulting firm, Bloomberg reported.
Exxon Mobil Corp. and Statoil ASA were among the buyers, after crude oil’s rebound from a 12-year low earlier this year bolstered confidence. Acquisitions will allow companies to ensure future growth as the industry has slashed $1 trillion in spending to protect their balance sheets during the downturn.
“The extreme oil price volatility in the first quarter caused a lot of uncertainty,” said Greig Aitken, principal analyst for mergers and acquisitions at Wood Mackenzie.
“Activity picked up as confidence returned and companies started looking towards future growth instead of focusing entirely on survival.”
Exxon, the world’s largest oil producer by market value, agreed last month to acquire natural-gas explorer InterOil Corp. for as much as $3.6 billion to add discoveries in Papua New Guinea. The company is also in advanced negotiations with Eni to buy a stake in gas finds off Mozambique, people with knowledge of the talks said in July.
Statoil, Norway’s biggest oil producer, agreed last month to purchase an oil block off Brazil from Petroleo Brasileiro SA for $2.5 billion, its biggest acquisition since 2011.
The deals follow a period of relative quiet, as buyers and sellers failed to agree on valuations amid oil’s decline. North America, home to many higher-cost shale drillers, saw the fewest transactions last year since 2004, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Benchmark Brent crude averaged $35.21 a barrel in the first quarter of 2016, the lowest in more than a decade. The grade traded at $49.40 at 11:27 a.m. London time.
“Buyers and sellers were so far apart in terms of price expectations,” said Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani, executive chairman of oil producer DNO ASA, which made a $300 million bid for Gulf Keystone Petroleum Ltd. in July.
“A lot of the sellers still were hopeful that $100 oil or at least $80 oil was around the corner, and it hasn’t happened.”