Canadian gas-weighted deal-making will continue, though, for export as LNG.
2013 U.S. oil and gas M&A deal-making will consist of few transactions for natural gas, Wood Mackenzie researchers forecast. “U.S. shale gas is likely to remain out of favor until expectations of future pricing begin to strengthen,” the Scotland-based firm reports in its annual global M&A review, “and the timing on that event is as yet uncertain.”
Spend on U.S. shale-gas properties fell to some $3 billion in 2012 from as much as $30 billion in 2011. Instead, gas-weighted deal-making was focused in Canada, where buyers anticipate exporting production as LNG (liquefied natural gas), particularly into the heated Asia-Pacific market from plants on the British Columbian coast, the WoodMac team reports in “Global Upstream M&A: 2012 in Review and the Outlook for 2013.”
Buyers of Canadian gas in 2012 included PetroChina Co. Ltd., Chevron Corp. and Petronas. The lattermost’s $5.2-billion bid for Canada-based Progress Energy Resources Corp. received federal approval in December. “Canadian shale-gas spend increased from $3.3 billion in seven deals in 2011 to $11 billion in 13 deals in 2012,” WoodMac reports.
In the U.S., existing LNG-import-plant operators and other firms have filed federal applications to build export facilities. To date, only one-that by Cheniere Energy Inc. for export from Sabine Pass, Louisiana-has received full approval. The U.S. Department of Energy is awaiting a series of public comment on allowing more.
The WoodMac team expects more gas-for-export transaction headlines in 2013-globally. “LNG will remain a key theme, whether through equity stakes in Australasia or in emerging developments in East Africa.”
In the U.S., meanwhile, buyers will spend more on adding unconventional-oil reserves to their portfolios, the researchers expect. Overall in North America, “the U.S. will see the vast majority of investment, but Canadian, tight-oil M&A could grow as embryonic plays are proved up. Canadian shale gas will continue to attract interest as a feedstock for future LNG developments. (In that,) the upper end of the market will continue to be dominated by Asian players-NOCs (national oil companies) and Japanese trading houses-and the very largest IOCs (international, non-government-held oil companies).”
Of course, U.S. shale gas remains in play with contrarian buyers, so a big deal of this nature “cannot be ruled out,” the team adds.
Otherwise, among unconventional-resource M&A in this and coming years, “Australia aside, unconventional plays outside North America are too immature to attract material M&A spend. We may, however, see some early-stage joint ventures targeting unconventionals in China and Argentina.”
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