Picture used for illustrative purpose only.
The collapse in oil prices to 21-year lows has led potential buyers of oil and gas fields to try and renegotiate deals already agreed at higher prices, with the first examples emerging of sellers having their hand forced.
At a time when most oil companies are slashing budgets, dividends and headcounts to preserve cash, sellers are facing a difficult choice between sweetening the deal or risking losing it altogether.
Premier Oil’s CEO said he is seeking a cheaper price for North Sea assets it agreed to buy from BP for $625 million and Energean is doing the same with a $700 million purchase from Edison.
“The oil industry is revisiting its ‘before coronavirus’ (BC) bids, and we envisage announcements from other firms as they re-price or repackage previously announced deals,” said Royal Bank of Canada oil and gas equity analyst Al Stanton.
Total this month decided to walk away from its purchase of Occidental Petroleum’s assets in Ghana, which hit a glitch over part of the French firm’s wider deal with US Occidental.
“Given the extraordinary market environment and the lack of visibility that the group faces. Total has decided not to pursue the completion of the purchase of the Ghana assets,” Total said in a statement.
Among deals currently on the table, private equity group Blackstone with its North Sea vehicle Siccar Point, was already disagreeing with another private equity firm, Chrysaor, over price even before the slump in March, sources said.
However, privately held Hilcorp Energy and private-equity firm HitecVision have successfully renegotiated deals with energy majors BP and Total, respectively, during the current oil price meltdown.
“Sellers, especially the majors, have certainly been very constructive,” said one industry banker.
Hilcorp’s new agreement retains the original sale price but provides for vendor financing, smaller payments in 2020 and for cash-flow sharing in the near term, BP said. The terms may lead to BP receiving less cash at the end of the day.
Total on Wednesday said it agreed to restructure a deal, initially set at $635 million, to sell North Sea oilfields to HitecVision’s NEO unit to reflect “current market conditions while retaining the majority of the value of the transaction.” This included lending money to the buyer.
“It is my view that all deals in general will be a mixture of initial payments that are suitable for the current market and earn out or commodity price payments that allow sellers to get good deals as the volatility subsides,” HitecVision Senior Partner John Knight said.
“Vendor finance with junior (debt) facilities, working capital and marketing and hedging arrangements and in some cases tax transfers and allocations and decommissioning security arrangements will all be tools all sellers and buyers will use in markets like this.”
Earn-out or upside sharing means the seller will only be paid once the oil price exceeds a certain limit.
HitecVision said it is on the prowl for more acquisitions in the British North Sea. In Norway, Aker BP and Lundin may be on the lookout for cheap assets, while OKEA and DNO, which took control of UK’s Faroe Petroleum last year, are also looking to grow.
For some producers, like North Africa and gas-focused SDX, current oil prices do represent a “catalyst for opportunities”, but Chief Executive Mark Reid said vendor financing, such as becoming the sellers’ debtor, is a double-edged sword.
“It’s clearly something that helps to sell the asset and put it into the hands of a smaller company. It is an interesting dynamic that the majors are able to use their balance sheet to facilitate (mergers and acquisitions),” he said.
“We continue to talk to our contacts at BP, and other majors. But most importantly, (we plan) so that the company doesn’t find itself drowned in debt.”
Oil prices rose on Thursday to their highest since March, as a drawdown of US crude inventories and output cuts by major producers helped ease concerns about a supply glut, offsetting fears over the economic fallout from the COVID-19 epidemic.
Brent crude futures for July delivery were trading up 62 cents, or 1.7%, at $36.37 per barrel, rising for a second day.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures for July were up 61 cents, or 1.8%, at $34.10 a barrel, extending its gains into a sixth straight session. Both prices are at their highest since March 11.
US crude inventories fell by 5 million barrels last week, against expectations in a Reuters poll for a 1.2 million-barrel rise, Energy Information Administration (EIA) data showed, while stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub dropped by 5.6 million barrels.
Norwegian oil and gas firm Equinor reported on Friday a small fall in quarterly operating profit, beating forecasts, and said its giant Johan Sverdrup oilfield in the North Sea remains on track to start production in November. Earnings before interest and tax (EBIT),
The Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (Taqa) announced on Thursday its financial results and operational highlights for the six-month period ending June 30, 2019.
China is implementing drastic changes in its oil and gas sector policy. Beijing will for the first time allow foreign companies to explore and produce oil and gas in the country. It opens up the industry to firms other than state-run energy giants as Beijing looks to boost domestic energy resources.
The US economy unexpectedly added jobs in May after suffering record losses in the prior month, offering the clearest signal yet that the downturn triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic was probably over, though the road to recovery could be long.
Canadian plane and train maker Bombardier said on Friday it would cut 2,500 jobs, or about 11% of the workforce at its aviation unit, as the coronavirus pandemic’s crushing impact on the air industry adds to its long list of problems.
The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced unique market pressures and challenges across industrial sectors. In the context of the real estate industry in the UAE, the crisis interrupted a process of steadily building renewed growth.
Germany has become the second major European Union (EU) economy to use a multi-billion-euro recovery plan to spur clean driving, with incentives for electric cars that should boost Volkswagen (VW) and Tesla, while polluting sport utility vehicles (SUVs) face higher taxes.