One week after selling one set of assets, Linn Energy Inc. racked up a second sale, this time agreeing to shed its interest in Wyoming's Salt Creek Field to Denbury Resources Inc., a carbon dioxide (CO2) enhanced oil recovery (EOR) specialist, for $71.5 million.
Houston-based Linn agreed to sell its 23% nonoperated working interest in about 5,000 net acres, which had net production of 2,000 boe/d in 1Q2017. At the end of the first quarter, the acreage held proved developed reserves of about 9 million boe with a proved developed value of $54 million based on the estimated present revenue, net estimated direct expenses, discounted at an annual discount rate of 10%, or PV-10.
"Salt Creek is a great fit for Denbury, building scale in the heart of our core Rockies region, with production growing and many opportunities for future expansion in this large and long-lived field," said Denbury COO Chris Kendall. "The acquisition builds on our goal of resuming production growth by 2018, and its attractive price should improve our credit metrics in the near term, with the opportunity for additional enhancements in the future."
Plano, TX-based Denbury said it plans to initially fund the acquisition through its bank line, but anticipates the cost will ultimately be offset by its sale of non-producing surface acreage in the Houston area. It described the acreage as "ideally suited for commercial development," adding that it was currently preparing to put the acreage up for sale.
Denbury, which is considered a leading EOR expert, is focused on CO2 floods along the Gulf Coast and in the Rockies. It is currently partnering with Australia's Elk Petroleum Ltd. to develop the Grieve CO2 EOR project in Wyoming.
"The Salt Creek sale marks a milestone in the ongoing transformation of Linn from a highly levered production-based MLP [master limited partnership] to a streamlined growth-oriented enterprise," CEO Mark Ellis and board chairman Evan Lederman said in a joint statement. Eliminating the company's debt is "a significant achievement...considering [Linn] had approximately $8.4 billion in debt outstanding at the end of 2015."
Linn had budgeted $4 million to develop the Wyoming assets in the second half of 2017 but will instead redeploy the capital to develop growth projects or add cash to its balance sheet. The transaction, subject to conditions, is expected to close in the second quarter with an effective date of March 1.
In a note to clients on Tuesday, Wunderlich Securities Inc. said Denbury was "picking up additional CO2 flood assets at a good price." Analyst Jason Wangler wrote that the CO2 deals Denbury has been making so far in 2017 "have been coming at accretive prices, given so many are focused on unconventional shale plays, and we believe there could be more deals in the future for Denbury. If it can find the proper way to finance them, that would improve the company operationally as well."
On Denbury's proposed sale of non-producing land in the Houston area for commercial development, Wangler said "if successful, this would make the deal even more accretive and positive for its debt metrics."
Year-to-date Linn has signed sale agreements totaling $916 million, with net proceeds expected to be used to pay down debt. Proforma for the transactions to date, Linn expects to extinguish all remaining outstanding debt.
Linn in early May agreed to sell 27,500 net acres in Wyoming's Jonah Field and Pinedale Anticline to Jonah Energy LLC for $581.1 million and last week sold 500 net acres in California's South Belridge Field in the San Joaquin Basin, to anundisclosedbuyerfor $263 million.
Linn emerged from Chapter 11 in late February. It cited a sustained decline in commodity prices when it filed for bankruptcy protection as Linn Energy LLC in May 2016. It emerged as Linn Energy Inc. after agreeing to sell its noncore assets in the Williston and Permian basins, as well as in South Texas and California. It also agreed to spin off Berry Petroleum Co. LLC, a company it acquired in 2013 for $4.3 billion. Linn began trading over-the-counter on the OTCQB market in April.
CIBC Griffis & Small and Jefferies LLC acted as Linn’s co-financial advisers for the latest transaction, while Kirkland & Ellis LLP served as legal counsel.