Sanchez to Acquire Shell's Eagle Ford Stake

Royal Dutch Shell plc will sell to Sanchez Energy Corp. its interest in Eagle Ford shale assets as the company refocuses its North American portfolio on acreage where it can reach the scale it needs to successfully execute projects.

Houston-based Sanchez will acquire Shell’s 100 percent working interest in approximately 106,000 net acres in Dimmit, LaSalle, and Webb counties in south Texas, which includes approximately 176 operated producing wells and associated field facilities and infrastructure.

The assets include 60 million barrels of oil equivalent of proved reserves. Net production from this acreage in first quarter 2014 was approximately 24,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd); around 60 percent of this production was crude and natural gas liquids.

The acquisition will boost Sanchez’s position in the Eagle Ford to around 226,000 acres, with up to 3,000 potential drilling locations and average first quarter 2014 pro forma production of about 42,800 boepd, Sanchez said in a May 21 press statement. The pro forma potential drilling locations of nearly 3,000 wells include 200 identified low-risk and high rate of return drilling locations and up to 800 additional potential locations.

Sanchez said the acquisition would be immediately accretive to earnings and cash flow per share.

“This transaction is a catalyst in our strategy to grow through both the drill bit and prudent asset acquisitions,” said Sanchez President and Chief Executive Officer Tony Sanchez III in a May 21 press release.

He added that the 200 de-risked ready to drill locations included in the acquisition will provide at least four years of drilling inventory at a 50-well per year pace. This activity is expected to generate well-level rates of return of more than 35 and 50 percent.

“The timing and location of the transaction are optimal given that our operations in the neighboring Eagle Ford areas just a few miles to the east where we have developed increased technical expertise, cost savings, and production gains on a scale that puts our oil and gas manufacturing operations at the leading edge of our industry,” Sanchez commented.

“With the addition of this acreage, we have substantially increased our drilling inventory – positioning Sanchez Energy to be a leading low-cost producer in the Eagle Ford for years to come.”

The sale, which is effective Jan. 1 of this year, is expected to close at the end of this year’s second quarter, Shell said in a May 21 press release.

Shell has previously divested its acreage position in the Mississippi Lime play in Kansas, its position in Ohio’s Utica shale and part of its acreage in Colorado’s Sandwash Niobrara basins.

The company plans multi-year programs to restructure both of its oil products and North America’s resource play portfolios, and plans to be much more selective on growth opportunities in both areas. While Shell has a rich opportunity set that it has built up in both areas over the past few years – a good position to be in – the company is capital constrained, said Shell Chief Executive Ben van Beurden.

“Shell has approximately $80 billion of capital employed combined in oil products and North Americas resources plays, and the financial performance there is frankly not acceptable,” van Beurden said at Shell’s Annual General meeting May 20, according to a statement. “These two businesses have been the largest drag on Shell’s profitability in 2013.”

The company has announced so far this year over $4.5 billion of asset sales from its non-core portfolio, with divestments for 2014 and 2015 combined expected to reach $15 billion, van Beurden said.


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