Exxon to Buy Gas Explorer InterOil for Up to $3.6 Billion

(Bloomberg) - Exxon Mobil Corp. agreed to buy natural gas explorer InterOil Corp. for as much as $3.6 billion to acquire discoveries in Papua New Guinea that will feed the buyer’s existing gas-export plant.

Exxon will use its own stock to pay between $45 and $71.87 per share of InterOil, depending on how much gas InterOil’s Elk-Antelope field holds, Irving, Texas-based Exxon said in a statement on Thursday. With the range of potential payouts valuing the agreement at $2.5 billion to $3.6 billion, it represents Exxon’s biggest acquisition in almost four years.

The world’s largest energy producer by market value also agreed to pay a $60 million breakup fee on behalf of InterOil, which backed out of an earlier deal to sell itself to Oil Search Ltd. and Total SA for $2.2 billion.

Exxon said it plans to chill, liquefy and export the gas from the Elk-Antelope field in its PNG LNG complex on the coast of the South Pacific nation. Exxon’s statement made no mention of InterOil’s original plan to build a separate LNG facility known as Papua LNG from scratch. Exxon’s PNG LNG plant cost $19 billion to build and began exporting the fuel in 2014.

“Exxon Mobil will work with co-venturers and the government to evaluate processing of gas from the Elk-Antelope field by expanding the PNG LNG project,” the company said. “This would take advantage of synergies offered by expansion of an existing project to realize time and cost reductions that would benefit the PNG Treasury, the government’s holding in Oil Search, other shareholders and landowners.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Joe Carroll in Chicago at jcarroll8@bloomberg.net To contact the editors responsible for this story: David Marino at dmarino4@bloomberg.net Steve Stroth

Copyright 2016 Bloomberg News.

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