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California Resources, Macquarie in $160M JV to Expand San Joaquin E&P Activity

Following up on a strategy to shift from defense to offense this year, Los Angeles-based California Resources Corp. (CRC) on Wednesday entered another joint venture (JV) to boost exploration and production (E&P) activity.

In its second JV this year, CRC and Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (MIRA) formed a "strategic JV" in which MIRA committed $160 million to develop oil and gas assets in the San Joaquin Basin. Subject to future consideration, MIRA could invest up to $300 million eventually, according to CRC.

In February, CRC announced a $250 million JV with Benefit Street Partners LLC (BSP) designed to boost California oilfield production. BSP is developing opportunities in multiple producing fields.

The Macquarie JV's initial commitment over a two-year period would be related to CRC development in the Kern Front, Mt. Poso, Pleito Ranch and Wheeler Ridge fields. MIRA would fund 100% of the development wells and earn a 90% working interest, while CRC's working interest would revert from 10% to 75% once MIRA obtains its agreed-to return.

Units of Macquarie's Australian-based parent company already are heavily invested in U.S. energy companies, including a consortium formed to buy Bellevue, WA-based Puget Sound Energy in 2008.

CRC CEO Todd Stevens said the latest JV with MIRA would help the E&P arm and unlock the value of a "large and long-lived inventory." It is also expected to help "derisk and accelerate" CRC's development of its resources base.

Calling the CRC assets "high quality in a world class basin," MIRA's Paul Beck, senior managing director, said the private equity firm was "attracted to CRC's operation expertise, technical understanding and substantial infrastructure."

CRC reported full-year 2016 net income of $279 million ($6.76/share), compared with a net loss in 2015 of $3.5 billion (minus $92.79).

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