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Repsol, Statoil Reconfigure Eagle Ford Partnership

Repsol is divesting a portion of its stake in the Eagle Ford Shale in an asset swap with Norway's Statoil in which the former will acquire a 15% stake in a Norwegian field.

Both transactions have the same value, so the effect on the Spanish company's profit and loss account is neutral, Repsol said. Repsol is divesting a 13% stake in the Eagle Ford to partner Statoil and acquiring a 15% share in the Gudrun producing field in Norway. The companies had been 50-50 partners in the Eagle Ford.

Repsol and Statoil also agreed to establish a single operatorship (Statoil) in the Eagle Ford, which is expected to yield greater efficiencies and cost savings and be "more resilient to low oil prices," Repsol said. After the transaction Repsol will retain 37% of the partnership's Eagle Ford project.

The swap is expected to yield increased free cash flow and allow for lower capital expenditures. "All these effects are aligned with the strategic priorities outlined in the 2016-2020 'strategic plan' unveiled in October, which focuses on extracting value from the growth achieved in the last decade that culminated with the acquisition of Talisman Energy [see Daily GPIFeb. 11]," Repsol said.

Statoil has been active in U.S. shale assets since 2008 and entered the Eagle Ford in 2010 through a 50-50 joint venture with Talisman Energy USA Inc., which initially acted as operator for the jointly owned acreage. Under the terms of the 2010 agreement, Statoil took over operations in the eastern half of the asset in July 2013.

The effective date of the agreements is Jan. 1, 2015.

The Gudrun field holds 130 million bbl of remaining oil equivalent and is a high-pressure, high-temperature reservoir. Production started in April 2014, Statoil said.

Additionally, the board of Repsol-Sinopec Brazil (RSB), a company in which Repsol holds 60% share, has approved a resolution for Statoil to become operator of the BM-C-33 license in Brazil's Campos basin. RSB will keep its current 35% share in the project.

This change allows Repsol to focus on the development of the three play-types outlined in its 2016-2020 plan: core onshore and shallow offshore assets as well as unconventional plays.

"The U.S. and Brazil are focus areas for Statoil's international strategy," said John Knight, Statoil executive vice-president for global strategy and business development. "As the sole operator in the Eagle Ford joint venture, we will deliver benefits for both partners.

"In the current challenging market environment, these are innovative, value-enhancing transactions which will help control costs and strengthen Statoil's portfolio for the long term."

All the transactions are expected to close by the end of the year.

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