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ExxonMobil Expands Argentina Portfolio, Wins Three Blocks

Zacks Equity Research
Lower contributions from all the reporting segments of ExxonMobil (XOM) hurt its Q1 numbers.

Exxon Mobil Corporation XOM announced that its unit and an affiliate of Qatar Petroleum have won three exploration blocks in Argentina’s first offshore bid round.

The three blocks augment ExxonMobil’s existing holdings in Argentina by about 2.6 million net acres. Located in the Malvinas basin, the blocks lie about 200 miles (320 kilometers) offshore Tierra del Fuego and comprise MLO-113, MLO-117 and MLO-118.

ExxonMobil, as the operator of the blocks, has a working interest of 70%. The remaining 30% is held by an affiliate of Qatar Petroleum. The initial program will comprise 3-D seismic data acquisition. The public tender results will be substantiated by a resolution to be issued by Argentina’s Secretariat of Energy.

On Apr 16, a statement issued by the Argentina government confirmed that it had received offers for the exploration of three offshore oil and gas basins from 13 companies for a total of $995 million. The country's energy secretariat was expected to validate the companies that were to be awarded areas in May.

ExxonMobil’s existing holdings in Argentina includes 315,000 net acres spanning over seven blocks in the onshore Neuquén Basin of the Vaca Muerta unconventional oilfield and a business support center in Buenos Aires.

In June 2018, Qatar Petroleum had inked an agreement to acquire a 30% stake in two of ExxonMobil’s affiliates in Argentina. The deal provided Qatar Petroleum access to oil and gas shale assets in the Latin American country.

Currently, ExxonMobil has made huge investments in U.S. shale operations and in Guyana. However, the company’s growth in Argentina has been hindered due to several reasons, including the geographic distance of the country from U.S. shale operations as well as government regulations on natural gas prices.

Throughout 2018, ExxonMobil’s focus on Brazil's prolific offshore oilfields yielded results. The oil major secured several blocks in partnership with other companies. ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum International won Brazil's Tita area, located in the high-quality Santos basin.

The companies have also teamed up for three of ExxonMobil’s offshore exploration blocks in Mozambique's Angoche and Zambezi basins.

Zacks Rank & Key Picks

Currently, ExxonMobil carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Some better-ranked players in the energy space are Antero Resources Corporation AR, CrossAmerica Partners L.P. CAPL and SEACOR Holdings, Inc CKH. While Antero Resources and CrossAmerica Partners sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), SEACOR Holdings carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Antero Resources is an independent explorer, primarily engaged in the acquisition and development of natural gas, natural gas liquids as well as oil resources in the Appalachian Basin. The company’s earnings beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate in two of the last four quarters.

CrossAmerica Partners is involved in the wholesale distribution of motor fuels, comprising gasoline and diesel fuel. The partnership delivered an average positive earnings surprise of 452.2% in the last four quarters.

SEACOR Holdings is a diversified holding company, mainly focused on domestic and international transportation, logistics as well as risk management consultancy. The bottom line for 2019 is expected to inch up 1.7% year over year. The company delivered an average positive earnings surprise of 20.5% in the trailing four quarters.

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