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Linn Exiting California With $100M Sale in Los Angeles Basin

Linn Energy Inc. is completing its exit from California with the sale of some properties in the Los Angeles Basin to an undisclosed buyer for $100 million.

The divestiture includes about 2,000 net acres in the Brea-Olinda field in Los Angeles and Orange counties. The Houston-based producer said some of the sales proceeds would be used to repurchase shares.

"The sale of our Brea assets completes our strategic exit from California," said Chairman Evan Lederman. "Given the regulatory and operational complexities, the board of directors determined it is in the best interests of the company to exit California and use the asset sale proceeds for more attractive and value maximizing initiatives."

Net production from the assets being sold was about 1,900 boe/d during 1Q2017, with proved developed reserves of 17.6 million boe and a proved developed value of $126 million based on the estimated present revenue, net estimated direct expenses, discounted at an annual discount rate of 10%, or PV-10.

According to a company presentation earlier this year, Linn planned to sell assets in California, Wyoming, South Texas and in the Williston and Permian basins to further de-lever its balance sheet and focus its resources elsewhere.

Specifically, Linn intends to focus more funds to the Arkoma Basin, Wyoming’s Jonah field and Washakie and Williston basins; Utah’s Uinta Basin, formations in East Texas/North Louisiana, and in Oklahoma’s myriad reservoirs, the South Central Oklahoma Oil Province, or SCOOP, and the STACK, better known as the Sooner Trend of the Anadarko Basin, mostly Canadian and Kingfisher counties.

Linn had budgeted $2 million to develop the California 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 by the end of July with an effective date of March 1.

According to Linn, the California sale includes an additional $7 million contingency payment if certain operational requirements are satisfied within one year.

Last week, Linn's board authorized an initial share repurchase program of up to $75 million of its outstanding shares of Class A common stock.

During the company's 1Q2017 earnings presentation, Linn said it added a second rig to its drilling program in April and planned to drill 25 gross operated wells by the end of 2017. The company said it expects to exit 2017 with horizontal net production of about 16,700 boe/d.

Last month, Linn agreed to shed its interest in Wyoming's Salt Creek Field to Denbury Resources Inc., a carbon dioxide enhanced oil recovery specialist, for $71.5 million. That followed separate deals to sell 27,500 net acres in the Jonah field and Pinedale Anticline to Jonah Energy LLC for $581.1 million, and 500 net acres in California's South Belridge Field in the San Joaquin Basin to an undisclosed buyer for $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.

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