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Foreign companies are taking interest in US assets such as shale plays and the Gulf of Mexico. The companies are hoping to gain not only resources but also knowledge.
Despite a prolific portfolio that dominates the world’s deep waters and high hopes for offshore Brazil, Petrobras still has a perpetual interest in the offshore basins of the Gulf of Mexico (GoM).
“The deep water in the US [GoM] is very attractive for us. The potential, the remaining yet to be found reserves – all of that drove us to keep growing in the US,” said Gustavo Amaral, senior vice president, upstream Americas, for Petrobras. “In the last 10 years, we’ve been able to collect a lot of acreage in deep waters and remain very successful.”
Earlier this year, the company started production from the Chinook field in the GoM. The well is connected to the first FPSO to produce oil and gas in the US GoM. The vessel, BW Pioneer, is capable of processing 80,000 bbl of oil and 500,000 cu m of gas per day, and storing 500,000 bbl of oil. The company is also producing from the GoM’s Cascade field.
“We are very proud because those fields gave us the opportunity to bring for the first time to the GoM technology [being used] outside the US in Europe and Brazil – the FPSO,” Amaral said. The GoM is part of the company’s five-year plan that includes divestments to help fund acquisitions. “We are not selling the US. We like it. It works very well in our portfolio.”
He added the company is looking for suitable partners, because there is a lot of opportunity for development.
Amaral’s words came Oct. 10 during the Oil Council North America Assembly’s session on national oil companies and international E&P firms tapping into opportunities in America.
The GoM is where Petrobras took much interest. For Statoil, it is was not only deep water, but also the oil sands in Canada and shale plays across the United States, according to Irene Rummelhoff, senior vice president of strategy and business development for Statoil USA. The company has ownership interests in the Eagle Ford and Marcellus shale gas plays as well as the Bakken and Three Forks oil plays.
Statoil entered the latter play with an all-cash, US $4.4 billion acquisition of Austin, Texas-based Brigham Exploration in 2011.
Statoil and Petrobras are only two of many companies that seek or have sought investment opportunities in America. So who are the buyers? William “Bill” Marko, managing director of energy investment banking for Jeffries Energy Group, said “The buyers are the people with money. Companies like Statoil, Chevron, Exxon, Shell, Oxy – to name a few – have a lot of cash and are looking for opportunities all the time.”
The other groups of buyers are private equity firms and internationals, mainly Asian companies, he said, noting he has traveled to the region 16 times in the last two years because the region is a new buyer group.
“Generally, the Chinese have an incredible amount of money, mainly US treasuries. They’re looking for ways they can invest in more assets, ways they can invest in energy supply,” he said. They also are looking to invest in new technologies to bring back to their countries to help fulfill energy needs.
The needs are plentiful. Japan, for example, needs to double its LNG import capacity, Marko said. Other Asian countries in need of energy include China, India, Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam.
That stated, some leaders in Asian countries think the US has a high political risk, fearing volatility or other possible changes forthcoming, Marko said. “Canada, on the other hand, is kind of out-marketing [the US]. They have been welcoming. They have thrown out the welcome mat to the Chinese.”
However, he noted, “If they don’t approve [the] Nexen [acquisition], then all bets are off about how people feel about Canada.”
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