Billions of dollars are exchanging hands chasing mineral interest and royalties.
This edition’s Texas Landman field report covers activity in Railroad Districts 1-6. Drilling activity has remained flat with 75 rigs in the Eagle Ford, 37 in the Haynesville, 20 in East Texas and 5 in the Barnett as commodity prices stay soft with oil trading between $45-50/bbl and natural gas below $3.00/mcf. During this time, there has been significant A&D activity in East Texas where companies are targeting the gas-rich Haynesville shale.
In our last update, we reported on CCI’s acquisition of Anadarko’s assets for $1bln which included its Carthage upstream assets of 160,000 net mineral acres and midstream assets. In July, Rockcliff paid $550MM for Samson’s Haynesville acreage comprising 210,000 net mineral acres and then acquired an additional 60,000 net mineral acres from an undisclosed seller.
Successful dealmakers and investors understand the value of getting the right information to evaluate a new opportunity. Likewise, in the oil and gas space, having a solid understanding of a prospective investment play will enhance the quality of the assumptions and help set realistic expectations. This is particularly true when it comes to mineral title, land title and other regional title issues. An informed buyer will always conduct an assessment of title complexity, potential ‘red-flag’ issues, and the length of time it will take to confirm title.
Questions that should be asked, for example, are:
- How old is the title and what kind of access information will you have to work with during due diligence?
- What are the costs associated with title due diligence and title curative?
- How hard will it be to obtain fill-in acreage or hold on to your acreage post-acquisition?
For energy professionals and investors with limited experience in the business of oil and gas land management, the details can seem daunting, or worse, be treated as an “afterthought” to other steps in the E&P value chain. The simple truth is, diligent upkeep of your land and title matters will pay great dividends, both in the short and long term. Poor land management, on the other hand, can lead to loss of acreage, interference with operations and, ultimately, put you at a disadvantage when it’s time to sell your oil and gas assets.
The following three factors help extract maximum value from an E&P investment:
1) the quality of the title you acquired,
2) the efficacy of your asset management program, and
3) your divestment readiness.
Negotiating and executing oil and gas transactions are never simple endeavors. Transactions require careful analysis and decision-making on a range of issues to ensure you are making a deal that satisfies your objectives.
It is not always feasible to gather internal resources to support the oil and gas acquisition or divestiture process, particularly around title due diligence. Most deal terms provide for a relatively short due diligence period, thereby requiring a dedicated group of experts to examine the assets ahead of closing. Hiring an external party to get the job done will most likely be a necessity. When that occurs, it is important to know what you don’t know.
Here are some keys to getting the most value out of your title due diligence team:
When it comes to acquiring any type of asset, it’s important to keep your eyes open across all aspects of the business—from its past performance to its future potential earnings, and everything in between. This is particularly so when evaluating oil and gas acquisitions on the heels of several declining years, during which staff was lean, bankruptcies were common and things were left undone…leading to more physical defects, as well as financial problems. Thus, the need for careful and thorough evaluations performed by qualified professionals in land and title matters.
Tips to consider
Before finalizing that offer to acquire your next O&G entity, we suggest you take the following tips into consideration.
When the stakes are high with oil and gas acquisitions—and they always are—you need a rigorous due diligence process performed by an experienced firm to avoid driving up costs or taking too much time. This specialized analytical process, when done correctly, will help uncover potential risks as well as opportunities, while also helping to prevent investment errors or miscalculations.
Smart, money-saving questions
You can’t afford not to ask certain probing questions for vetting purposes when deciding who to hire as your oil and gas due diligence team. You’ll be surprised by what is revealed during this “due diligence” exercise.
Here are the top five:
What landmen should know about this quarter’s E&P transactions in Texas.
The field report for this current issue will cover activity in the Permian Basin, Railroad Districts 8, 8A and 7C, in addition to covering activity in RR Districts 1-6. The Permian is the most active basin with 339 rigs currently running. It is worth noting that in comparison to a year ago, the rig count in the Permian was 141 rigs, less than half what it is today. In a distant second, the Eagle Ford remains active with 75 rigs, followed by Haynesville 37, East Texas 20 and the Barnett 5. This explosion of activity in the Permian was created by massive investments from public and private companies because of the play’s superior economics and low commodity prices. However, Permian acreage comes with a continuous drilling commitment and if left unfulfilled, companies may lose significantly on their investment.
The outlook for Railroad Districts 1-6 remains promising as we look at the decision by OPEX and non-OPEX countries to cut production, combined with the new political climate in the New Year. Much needed relief has been provided to the gas market this winter with prices nearing $3.50 mcf. The Texas gas market trends upward as we continue to see increasing quantities of gas shipping to Mexico and to Gulf Coast LNG facilities. Contributing to this trend, the news of Raven Petroleum’s refinery project in Duval County, Texas with the capacity to process 50,000 barrels/day and store up to 4MM barrels of crude on site. Once complete it will be the first refinery built in the US since early 1970s and it will bring many jobs to South Texas. In other recent Texas news, TOTAL exercised its preferential right to purchase 75 percent of Chesapeake’s stake in their Barnett holdings where they were originally a 25% non-op joint venture partner prior to this election. More great news for Texas, Wildhorse Resource Development Corp. successfully raised $400MM in its initial public offering and bought Clayton Williams leasehold in the Giddings field. Anadarko sold its East Texas assets comprising 160,000 acres and midstream assets to Castleton Commodities for $1 bln. We have also seen a significant decrease in the number of companies filing Chapter 11 in the last several months. Many of the companies that previously filed for bankruptcy protection have now reemerged and are shedding their noncore assets while other companies selling assets in RR Districts 1-6 are raising money to invest in their core areas.
The current activity in Railroad Districts 1-6 should be described by the number of companies filing for bankruptcy protection rather than the normal metric of the number of rigs running. To bring this illustration into further focus, I believe that more companies will file for bankruptcy protection in Texas this year than there will be rigs currently active in the Eagle Ford. The number of these Chapter 11 companies will be overwhelming and for the companies that were fortunate enough to not file for bankruptcy, they will be a mere shadow of their former self. Take Chesapeake, the largest and most active producer in the Barnett shale since its inception just announced the sale of their Barnett shale properties to private equity backed Saddle Barnett Resources. Chesapeake’s market capitalization in just 2 years has fallen from $20.4Bln to $4.7Bln. The fallout from these bankrupt and zombie companies continues to have a devastating impact on landmen, our families and our industry. You need only to read the posts on AAPL LandNews in order to gain huge insight on how landmen are faring after 2 years of falling oil prices. The impact is intense and far-reaching with AAPL and NAPE both experiencing dramatic declines in event attendance and making necessary cuts in order to maintain a balanced budget.