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BHP Culling West Texas Assets Through Sales

BHP Billiton Inc. is selling a portion of its Permian assets in the Delaware and Midland basins in two separate packages representing 250,000 acres combined, as it high-grades its West Texas holdings.

Australia-based BHP hired Scotia Waterous (USA) Inc. to market its interest in 250,000 net acres in the Permian Basin. "The sale does not represent an exit from the Permian Basin as BHP will retain a significant interest in both the Delaware and Midland Basins," Waterous said in an offering announcement on its website.

The acreage is in Reeves, Culberson, Lynn and Terry counties, TX, and is being offered in two packages: 165,000 net acres in the Delaware Basin and 85,000 net acres in the Midland Basin. "The acreage in each package is highly contiguous and prospective for multi-pay horizons," Waterous said.

The storied Permian is enjoying a renaissance as horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing are being applied to emerging oil-prone unconventional plays in the basin.

The southern Delaware Basin acreage offers thousands of feet of stacked pay that includes multiple intervals within the Avalon, Bone Spring, and Wolfcamp. Wolfbone and Wolfcamp trend areas are rapidly expanding westward toward the BHP's acreage in the Delaware Basin, Waterous said. Numerous conventional target zones have potential on the lightly-drilled acreage. Six exploration wells with full modern petrophysical datasets have been drilled by BHP and predecessor companies, shortcutting the development process.

In the Midland, about 700 vertical feet of undeveloped Wolfcamp Shale exists throughout most of the acreage. Newly drilled horizontal wells and permits to drill horizontal wells in the Wolfcamp, Strawn, Fusselman, and Spraberry surround the offered acreage, which is said to be "ideally situated" to apply modern drilling and completion practices to revive production from historical Horseshoe Atoll fields.

BHP was a big buyer in the U.S. shale patch when natural gas prices were higher. The Fayetteville, Haynesville and Eagle Ford shales, as well as the Permian Basin, were where BHP made its mark in 2011. BHP bought out Petrohawk Energy Corp. for $12.1 billion, giving it a substantial presence in the Eagle Ford in South Texas, the Haynesville in North Louisiana and East Texas and the Permian in West Texas (see Shale Daily, July 18, 2011). This followed its acquisition of Chesapeake Energy Corp.'s Fayetteville portfolio for $4.75 billion (see Shale Daily, Feb. 23, 2011).

"This year [fiscal 2014] we are continuing to focus on appraisal work in the Permian Basin and to date have been pleased with our overall progress," BHP spokesman Jaryl Strong told NGI's Shale Daily. "At this time, we are divesting certain portions of this acreage. As we continue with our evaluation we are concentrating our efforts on the acreage which holds the most immediate interest for us."

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