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Viper Coiled For More Permian Acquisitions Following Solid 2016

Viper Energy Partners LP continues to strike acquisition deals this year in the Permian Basin after completing 26 transactions in the second half of 2016, underlined by an “improving market,” the Diamondback Energy Inc. unit said.

Transactions since the end of September have increased the Midland, TX-based explorer’s footprint to a total of 6,415 net royalty acres. The Diamondback-controlled company, which was publicly launched in 2014, was the first U.S.-listed master limited partnership whose revenue is derived only from owning mineral rights. It now has 246 active well permits, with seven rigs currently working across its acreage.

“Viper has seen significant growth, with volumes up 47% from 2Q2016 through 4Q2016, after seeing volume declines in the first half of 2016” because of low commodity prices, said Diamondback CEO Travis Stice, who oversees Viper. “We believe this performance is a direct reflection of the quality of Viper’s asset base, where operators responded quickly to a rising commodity price environment.”

Average output in the final three months rose by 27% sequentially to 7,919 boe/d and was 74% weighted to oil. Production averaged 6,432 boe/d in 2016, up 18% year/year.

Viper was an active acquirer in the Permian during the last half of 2016, pocketing 26 transactions for an aggregate purchase price of $194.4 million. The deals altogether increased its leasehold position by more than 1,900 net royalty acres, Stice said.

Since its last equity offering in July, Viper has acquired 948 net royalty acres for an aggregate purchase price of $73 million. Between October and December, it added mineral interests underlying 887 net (34,210 gross) acres for $68.1 million.

The partnership also has, since the start of this year, added 11 net (481 gross) mineral acres in the Delaware sub-basin for $900,000. Diamondback, RSP Permian Inc., Pioneer Natural Resources Co. and Callon Petroleum Co. serve as primary operators on the assets.

“We anticipate staying active in the acquisition market by continuing to look at deals that are accretive on net asset value, yield and acreage valuation metrics,” Stice said. “We have built out a team at the company that is actively looking for mineral opportunities on a daily basis, with the primary focus on Diamondback-operated acreage because of its immediate accretion to future Viper distributions.”

Diamondback, which in November said it may run seven rigs in the Permian this year, produced 44,900 boe/d in 3Q2016, a 22% sequential increase and a 32% increase year/year. It also paid $560 million in July to add 19,180 net acres to its Delaware leasehold.

Viper fetched average commodity prices for its volumes during 4Q2016 of $46.14/bbl oil, $2.50/Mcf natural gas and $16.15/bbl natural gas liquids, resulting in a total average price of $38.33/boe. The average price was 10% higher than 3Q2016’s average equivalent of $34.74.

Viper also on Thursday upsized a public offering for up to 8.5 million common units, 1.5 million more than the original plan announced Wednesday. Total proceeds of $131.75 million are expected from the offering, which is set to close Jan. 24. Diamondback agreed to buy up to two million unsold units.

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