[Editor’s note: This story was updated from a previous version posted at 7:35 a.m. CT April 11.]
Cobalt International Energy Inc. accepted bids totaling $577.9 million for its U.S. Gulf of Mexico (GoM) assets as part of the Houston E&P’s bankruptcy auction, court documents revealed.
Cobalt filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December following initial trouble selling the assets in addition to a lingering arbitration dispute with Angola’s state-owned Sonangol.
The largest winning bid at the auction held in early March was a $339 million joint offer by Statoil ASA (NYSE: STO) and Total SA (NYSE: TOT) for Cobalt’s 60% operated interest in the North Platte discovery.
Total and Statoil said April 11 that the companies completed the acquisition from Cobalt and as a result Total will now take over as operator and increase its holdings to 60% from 40%. Meanwhile, Statoil will own a 40% nonoperated interest in the project.
Discovered in 2012 by Total and Cobalt in the Wilcox play, North Platte covers four blocks of the Garden Banks area, 275 km off the coast of Louisiana in roughly 1,300 m of water. The field is now fully appraised with a total of three wells and three sidetracks.
“This is a high-quality asset with a low CO₂ footprint and so strongly supports our strategy,” Torgrim Reitan, Statoil’s executive vice president for development and production USA, said in a statement. “It is also an excellent fit with our existing U.S. offshore portfolio, competence in technology development and knowledge of the Paleogene play in which we are the second largest producer.”
Statoil plans to start production in North Platte in the mid-2020s, company spokesperson Erik Haaland said in a Reuters report.
Total also grew its U.S. GoM footprint further through Cobalt’s bankruptcy auction by picking up an additional 20% stake in the Anchor discovery for $181 million and 13 offshore exploration blocks for $25 million, according to court documents.
Anchor, which is operated by Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX), was discovered in 2014 in the Wilcox play, 225 km off the coast of Louisiana in about 1,500 m of water. Total now holds 32.5% in Anchor, which the French oil major said is “one of the most significant recent discoveries in the GoM.”
In addition to North Platte and Anchor, Total holds working interests in three producing fields the U.S. GoM: Jack with 25% and Tahiti with 17%, both operated by Chevron, and Chinook with 33.33%, operated by Petrobras. The company also holds 40% in the Chevron-operated Ballymore discovery and participation in more than 160 exploration leases.
Statoil already has interests in eight producing fields in the U.S. GoM and two in development. The company’s production is expected to reach 110,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, making Statoil a top-five producer from the deepwater GoM, according to its press release.
In addition, Statoil said it expects its U.S. GoM portfolio will achieve an average cash margin of at least $45 per barrel after tax at an oil price of $70 by 2020.
New York-based law firm Orrick advised Statoil on its acquisition with Total. The effective date of the North Platte transaction is Jan. 1.
During the bankruptcy auction, W&T Offshore Inc. (NYSE: WTI) also presented the winning bid for Cobalt’s Heidelberg assets in the Green Canyon area for $31.1 million and Navitas Petroleum US LLC's $1.8 million bid was selected for the company’s Shenandoah properties in the Walker Ridge area, court documents said.
Kirkland & Ellis LLP was Cobalt’s legal adviser and Houlihan Lokey Inc. served as financial adviser for the company’s restructuring.
Emily Patsy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.