Apache To Sell Stakes In 2 LNG Projects To Woodside For $2.75B
Dec 15 (Reuters) - Apache Corp said on Monday it would sell its stakes in two liquefied natural gas projects, Wheatstone LNG in Australia and Kitimat LNG in Canada, to Australia's Woodside Petroleum Ltd for $2.75 billion.
Apache, under pressure from activist investor Jana Partners, said in July it planned to exit the two projects. The company is also evaluating a sale or spinoff of its international operations to focus on North American shale wells.
Woodside Petroleum, Australia's top oil and gas producer, said in August it was looking at potential acquisitions as companies such as Shell and Apache offload assets, amid worries about high costs and future prices.
Apache said it would sell its 13 percent stake in Wheatstone, majority-owned by Chevron Corp, and its 65 percent interest in the WA-49-L oil and gas block, located offshore western Australia.
The company is also selling its 50 percent stake in the Kitimat LNG project, a joint venture with Chevron, and related oil and gas assets in the Horn River and Liard natural gas basins in British Columbia, Canada.
Analysts expressed relief that Apache was able to strike a deal so soon in a time when crude prices have fallen more than 40 percent.
"This is a big win for Apache," analysts at Simmons & Co said in a note to clients. "Given the steep fall in oil prices, we were worried that it might take longer to close this deal.
Bernstein Research analyst Bob Brackett described the purchase $2.75 billion purchase price as "fair."
The deals are expected to close in the first quarter of 2015, the company said.
Apache will be reimbursed for its net spending on the two projects between June 30 this year and the closing date, which it estimated at $1 billion.
More than a dozen LNG export projects have been proposed for British Columbia as energy companies from around the world race to export cheap Canadian gas to energy-hungry Asian markets.
But uncertainties over taxation, the regulatory process and aboriginal consent and fierce competition from rival projects in the United States have called into question whether any will get done.
Apache's shares fell 25 cents, or 0.44 percent, to $56.19 in midday trading. Woodside shares closed up 2.3 percent on Monday.
(Reporting by Ashutosh Pandey in Bengaluru; Editing by Ted Kerr, Terry Wade and Leslie Adler)
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