Reliance Industries (RIL) will buy its third shale gas asset in the US for $392 million. RIL will pay $340 million in cash to acquire a 60 per cent stake in the Marcellus shale-gas acreages held by Carrizo Oil and Gas Inc and its partner, and the remainder $52 million would in Carrizo’s drilling cost in the Marcellus shale-gas areas of central and northeast Pennsylvania.
Earlier in 2010, RIL had bought a 40 per cent stake in Atlas Energy Inc’s Marcellus Shale acreage for $1.7 billion. Then in June 2010, it had agreed to buy a 45 per cent stake in Pioneer Natural Resources Co’s Eagle Ford shale natural gas asset in Texas for about $1.36 billion.
Reliance would have a net share of 62,600 acres of Carrizo’s shale acreage, smaller than the 137,000 acres in the Atlas venture and 118,000 acres in Pioneer’s assets. The resource potential in the Carrizo areas is a gross 3.4 trillion cubic feet of gas compared with 10 trillion cubic feet in the Pioneer areas. Reliance said its “subsidiary, Reliance Marcellus II, Llc, has signed definitive transaction agreements to enter into a Marcellus Shale joint venture with US-based Carrizo.”
Under the proposed transaction, Reliance will acquire a 60 per cent interest in Marcellus Shale acreage in Central and Northeast Pennsylvania that is currently held in a 50:50 joint venture between Carrizo and ACP II Marcellus LLC, an affiliate of Avista Capital Partners.
“Pursuant to the transaction, Reliance will acquire 100 per cent of Avista’s interest and 20 per cent of Carrizo’s interests in the joint venture,” it said. “Upon completion of the transaction, Reliance and Carrizo will own 60 per cent and 40 per cent interests respectively.”
The Marcellus Shale is a giant rock formation underlying Pennsylvania, New York and other states. Shale has long been known to contain natural gas, but this was not worth extracting with conventional technology. But now, shale gas is turning has become one of the most active M&A areas in the energy industry with several multi-billion dollar deals in the last 12 months. Industry Analysts feel this trend is being driven by the technical advances that enable more efficient shale natural gas extraction.
Also, its worth noting here that Natural Gas is today at the lower end of its multi-year commodity cycle, and it won’t remain there forever (that’s the beauty of commodity cycles). Companies buying shale gas resources today are making solid investments that can give 100% ROI in 3-5 years. Overall, we can be confident that there will be sufficient natural gas supply once its prices move up, to make it attractive for the natural gas exploration companies.