BP PLC said Tuesday it has agreed to sell its Colombian oil and gas exploration and production business to Ecopetrol SA and Talisman Energy Inc. for $1.9 billion.
BP is looking to divest about $30 billion in assets over the next 18 months to raise money to cover the cost of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. BP has already struck a $7 billion deal to sell assets in North America and Egypt to Apache Corp.
“I am delighted with the price we have achieved for these assets,” said BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward, who will step down on Oct. 1. “BP has been involved in Colombia for more than 20 years…but it now makes sense for the assets to go to owners more willing than BP to invest in their future development.”
BP has got a “very, very good” price for the assets, said NCB Stockbrokers analyst Peter Hutton.
The value of the deal is a surprising $32 a barrel for the resources involved, although, “this implied price will be inflated by inclusion of Cusiana gas processing facility and pipelines which needs to be stripped out,” he said. This compares with $19.44 per barrel of proved reserves for BP’s Apache deal, he said.
This deal bodes well for BP’s reported plans to sell its Argentine unit Pan American Energy, he added. “Neither of these are distressed asset sales,” he said.
BP is in talks with Argentina’s Bridas Corp. to sell its 60% stake in Pan American for around $9 billion, a person familiar with the talks told Dow Jones Newswires last month.
These asset sales will help BP cover the estimated $32 billion cost of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which pushed the company to make a $17.5 billion loss in the second quarter.
Ecopetrol, Colombia’s national oil company, will buy 51% of the business and Talisman 49%. They will pay BP a cash deposit of $1.25 billion and the balance when the deal passes regulatory approvals, expected by the end of this year.
“I am really pleased with this deal,” said Ecopetrol’s Chief Executive Javier Gutierrez. “It fits into our strategic plan perfectly, bringing new reserves, production and potential areas for our exploratory portfolio,” he said.
“These are tremendous assets that our team knows well. They are attractively priced, with excellent running room and we are partnering with the preeminent oil and gas company in Colombia,” said Talisman President and Chief Executive John Manzoni.
Talisman was created in 1992 when BP spun off its Canadian unit. Manzoni is also a former BP man, having headed the company’s refining and marketing unit while Hayward ran the exploration and production unit. Talisman is already partnered with Ecopetrol in several oil licenses in Colombia and Peru.
BP’s Colombia business has interests in five producing fields, four separate pipelines and two offshore exploration blocks, the company said. Net proved reserves total some 60 million barrels of oil equivalent and net production of approximately 25,000 boe a day.
The agreement does not affect BP’s Castrol lubricants business and other downstream oil activities in Colombia.
Barclays Capital acted as sole advisor to BP on the transaction.
At 1335 GMT BP shares were up 0.3%, or 1 penny, at 414p. (James Herron / Dow Jones)