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Hess Corporation ( HES - Analyst Report ) has struck an asset sale deal with Royal Dutch Shell Plc ( RDS.A - Analyst Report ) related to its stake in an oilfield off the Scottish coast. The company did not disclose the financial terms of the transaction, which is subject to the regulatory approval.
Per the deal, Hess aims to offload its 15.67% stake in the BP Plc ( BP - Analyst Report ) run Schiehallion field, a related share in the Schiehallion floating, production, storage and offloading vessel (FPSO) and the West of Shetland pipeline system. Located in 204 and 205 blocks, the Schiehallion field is about 175 kilometers west of the Shetland Islands. The sale of these non-operated, non-core properties is a part of Hess’ portfolio optimization plan that will eventually aid the company to continue growing its production and reserves.
Hess has been the co-worker in the Schiehallion venture since 1996, and the FPSO vessel has been in service since 1998. The construction of a new vessel is also currently underway and will likely commence production in 2016.
Following the completion of the transaction, which is expected to be in the latter half of 2012, the U.K. energy giant Shell will be the largest holder of the Schiehallion project by owning a 49.1% stake, while BP will have the operatorship interest of 36.3%.
Last quarter, the New York-based integrated energy company registered lower-than-expected earnings mainly due to lackluster production volume. Moreover, we believe that future asset sales will likely hamper the company’s production and bring down its profitability levels.
Despite the recent setback in quarterly production, we remain positive on Hess’ strong exploration upside in Ghana. The company’s Paradise discovery offshore Ghana is expected to offer the needed momentum over the coming years.
Hence, we expect the stock to perform in line with other industry players and the broader market and maintain our Neutral recommendation. The company retains a Zacks #3 Rank, which is equivalent to a Hold rating for a period of one to three months.
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