ECA announced April 29 that its subsidiary Encana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc. will sell properties in Leon and Robertson counties in East Texas for $530 million.
The buyer was not disclosed. Other operators with production in the counties are Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: APC), Halcón Resources Corp. (NYSE: HK), Clayton Williams Energy Inc. (NYSE: CWEI) and XTO Energy.
The deal follows the $1.8 billion March agreement to sell ECA’s natural gas assets in the Jonah Field in western Wyoming’s Sublette County.
ECA said in December it would invest about 75% of its 2014 capital in five high-return oil and liquids-rich plays: the Montney, Duvernay, D-J Basin, San Juan Basin and Tuscaloosa Marine Shale (TMS).
“Consistent with our strategy, this transaction builds on our efforts to unlock value from properties within our massive asset base,” said Doug Suttles, Encana president and CEO, in a statement. “We remain focused on developing our core growth plays and extracting additional value from our base assets.”
The combined Texas areas consist of about 90,000 net acres. Average 2013 production was about 100 million cubic feet per day of natural gas and about 1,200 barrels per day (bbl/d) of total liquids. Year-end 2013 total estimated proved reserves of the properties equate to just over 200 billion cubic feet equivalent compromised of 97% natural gas.
The sale is expected to close in the second quarter of 2014 with an effective date of April 1.
Canada's largest gas producer has focused on developing five plays in Canada and the U.S., including the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale. The TMS has been a contentious area, although Goodrich Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: GDP) announced April 14 that its Blades 33H-1 well in Louisiana reached a peak 24-hour average production rate of 1,270 barrels of oil equivalent per day, with 98% oil (1,250 bbl).
ECA should offer commentary on several TMS wells in various stages of drilling/completion along with initial rates on its Lawson 25 H-1, said Mike Kelly, senior analyst for GHS Research.
While ECA executes on its liquids strategy, questions persist.
Some analysts have frowned on its Wyoming deal, contending it was sold too cheaply given its massive potential. Bob Brackett, senior analyst, Bernstein Research, has said the company could have received more than $1.8 billion since gas prices have improved and the asset is better that comparable properties.
The deal “removes one of their proven, better gassy assets which we estimate was profitable in the low $4s and presumably redeploys the money into the Montney and their other four, generally unproven liquids positions,” Brackett said.