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Midstream Carries The A&D Load In Shale Deals

  • Consolidation in Midstream sector change risk appetite of acquirers
  • Larger Strategics value sophisticated risk management programs
  • Increased risk due diligence by larger buyers
  • D&O claims with exit transactions from public shareholders

Source: Hart Energy

Prices took their toll in the oil and gas deal market in first-quarter 2015, with buyers indifferent to assets and the upstream shale market in particular.

The first quarter also marked the first time that corporate deals surpassed asset deals since 2010. Corporate deals accounted for nearly 90% of all first-quarter 2015 transactions’ value.

The corporate transaction trend continued May 11, as Noble Energy Inc. (NBL) and Rosetta Resources Inc. (ROSE) reached a merger agreement. The all-stock deal, worth $3.9 billion, gives Noble entry to the Eagle Ford and Permian Basin. Included in the price tag is $1.8 billion to assume Rosetta’s debt.

In first-quarter 2015, mergers and acquisitions (M&A) were in freefall. Values and volumes fell compared to fourth-quarter 2014, as low oil prices continued to alter E&P growth strategies, according to a May 7 report by PwC US.

During the first three months of 2015, 39 oil and gas deals were struck that each had values greater than $50 million. The deals were worth $34.5 billion total. That was a dramatic dip from fourth-quarter 2014, as 70 deals worth $103.5 billion were made.

“The declines in deal activity that we saw in the last two months of 2014, particularly in the upstream space as a result of the drop in oil prices, continued in the first quarter of 2015,” said Doug Meier, PwC’s U.S. energy sector deals leader. “The velocity and magnitude of the decline in oil prices have caused companies to focus internally on cost reduction and productivity enhancement activities, which have taken attention away from M&A as a growth vehicle.”

Still, low commodity prices may present opportunities for potential acquirers who have the balance sheets to finance deals and the investing horizon to see through the current lows of the business cycle, Meier said.

PwC said it is working with companies to develop programs to help cope with the downtime and be ready for the upcycle.

Nevertheless, first-quarter 2015 managed to fare better than the same quarter in 2014, when the market generated just $26.4 billion in deals.

Midstream deals accounted for a whopping 398% growth in value compared to first-quarter 2014. Nearly half of MLP transactions were dropdowns and affiliate transactions totaling $5 billion.

The number and value of oilfield services deals decreased, with three transactions worth $384 million, down 94% compared to the same period in 2014. The total number of downstream deals remained the same at two while total deal value decreased 26% compared to first-quarter 2014.

Overall, there were four megadeals worth $23 billion, representing 67% of total deal value, PwC said.

Shale plays continued to attract interest, though the number of transactions and volume faltered. Compared to the first quarter of 2014, values were down 71%.

“The drop in shale deal activity in the first quarter was highlighted by the low oil price environment as E&P companies looked to strategically realign their business objectives and investments in order to cut overall costs,” said John Brady, a Houston-based partner with PwC’s energy practice. “As the uncertain environment has continued, E&P companies have been working to capture more value from their land organizations following previous acquisitions.”

Overall, shale plays saw nine deals with values greater than $50 million in first-quarter 2015 worth $5.3 billion. Though deals were down nearly one-third, values were up 8% compared to first-quarter  2014.

The real strength in deal values came from the midstream sector, generating $4.6 billion—a 160% increase compared to first-quarter 2014. Upstream deals, by contrast, made up just 16% of deals in the first quarter.

The most active area for deals, the Permian Basin, saw four deals generate $1.5 billion in value. The Eagle Ford contributed three deals worth $1.2 billion, and in the Marcellus two transactions totaled $567 million. The Bakken and Haynesville each generated one deal, though the Bakken transaction was worth $3 billion.

Financial investors continued to show interest in the oil and gas industry with 11 transactions worth $4.5 billion, a slight decrease in total deal volume compared to 12 deals worth $3.6 billion during the same period in 2014.

“Financial investors will continue to look for distress opportunities during this period of commodity price uncertainty and will be prepared to deploy capital more extensively once we achieve a period of commodity prices stability,” said Rob McCeney, PwC U.S. energy and infrastructure deals partner.

Foreign buyers announced four deals, accounting for $1.3 billion in value, a 33% decrease in deal volume and a 67% in value compared to the same period last year.