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BP to Offload Midstream Gas Assets

Zacks Equity Research

BP Plc (BP) has struck a sale agreement with Eagle Rock Energy Partners LP for its midstream gas assets in the Texas panhandle. The all-in cash transaction – expected to be completed by the year-end – is worth $227.5 million.

The assets to be sold comprise two natural gas processing plants, the Sunray plant in Moore County and the Hemphill plant in Hemphill County, that have a combined daily processing capacity  of roughly 220 million cubic feet of gas (MMcf). Additionally, the deal includes 2,500 miles of associated pipelines and other infrastructure.

The U.K. energy giant stated that as part of the deal none of its producing wells or other properties will be sold. BP remains enthusiastic about its targeted onshore development in the U.S.

This deal is part of the British behemoth’s divestiture plan, announced following the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico (GoM) two years back. BP is well on track with the planned $38 billion divestiture program of a number of its non-strategic assets over the period of 2010–2013. As of second quarter 2012, total disposals amounted to $24 billion since the announcement of the divestiture program in 2010.

Notably, the second-largest producer of oil and gas in the U.S. contends that its onshore upstream operations in the U.S. continue to be a fundamental part of  its business strategy and that it is seeking long-term opportunities for growth. In this regard, BP’s entry into a new liquids-rich basin through an agreement to lease around 84,000 acres of the Utica shale basin in Ohio is worth mentioning.

BP’s North America Gas (:NAG) business, comprising seven of the leading gas basins in the lower 48 states, produced more than 1,800 MMscf/d last year. The company has already spent $52 billion in the U.S. over the past five years.

Recently, BP divested its operations in Wyoming to LINN Energy, LLC (LINE) in a $1 billion all-cash deal to help pay for the catastrophic GoM oil spill. The company aims to reinvest the proceeds of the deal in its NAG business and elsewhere.

We believe the company’s strategy of offloading its non-core upstream properties will prove beneficial over time while creating a portfolio with potentially stronger growth from a smaller base. Additionally, BP’s position in the Woodford, Haynesville, Fayetteville, Eagle Ford and Utica shale plays, in association with its vast resource base and profound knowledge in unconventional gas will aid its NAG operations going forward.

BP retains a Zacks #3 Rank, which is equivalent to a Hold rating for a period of one to three months.

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