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BP Plc (BP - Analyst Report) plans to offload a group of Gulf of Mexico (GoM) oilfields, reflecting its effort to raise capital while divesting its assets following the 2010 catastrophic oil spill in the region. According to a Bloomberg report, the company is looking for around $7.9 billion (before tax payments) for the oilfields.
The to-be-sold properties include the Horn Mountain, Holstein, Diana Hoover and Ram Powell fields with proven reserves of about 120 million barrels of oil. During the first quarter, these fields generated 58,000 barrels of oil.
The deal is all part of BP’s plan to retain its flexibility while reshaping its U.S. operations by releasing up to 5 billion to 6 billion in cash, after taxes, to pay down its liabilities. Prospective bidders could include major U.S. energy companies like Chevron Corp. (CVX - Analyst Report) or ExxonMobil Corp. (XOM - Analyst Report).
BP − the second largest oil company following Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDS.A) − remains committed to continue investing at least $4 billion annually in the Gulf region over the next decade.
The GoM region marks the most profitable area in BP’s portfolio and hence the company remains upbeat on fields like Thunder Horse, Atlantis, Mad Dog and Na Kika. Presently, six rigs remain operational in the region and BP expects to have eight by the end of 2012.
Recently, BP plans to sell its California oil refinery and 800 statewide gas stations to refining giant Tesoro Corporation (TSO - Analyst Report) for $2.5 billion. This brings its total divestitures to about $26.5 billion since the announcement of the divestiture program in 2010.
We believe the company’s strategy of offloading its non-core upstream properties will prove beneficial over time while creating a portfolio with stronger growth from a smaller base. Additionally, BP’s focus on a string of upstream activities in high margin areas like the GoM, Angola, the North Sea, Brazil, Australia and India bode well for its future growth.
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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