By Robb M. Stewart 

MELBOURNE, Australia--ConocoPhillips (COP) has struck a deal to sell its operations in northern Australia for at least US$1.39 billion as the oil giant seeks to shift capital to other projects it believes will generate the highest longer-term value.

The assets being sold to Australia's Santos Ltd. (STO.AU) include ConocoPhillips's controlling stake in the Darwin LNG gas-export project and cover production of about 50,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day and proved reserves of about 39 million barrels as of the end of 2018.

The deal adds to other asset-exits agreed by ConocoPhillips in recent months, including an agreement in April to sell two subsidiaries focused on production in the U.K.'s North Sea for about US$2.68 billion in cash. Also in April, the company closed the sale of its 30% interest in the Greater Sunrise gas-fields to the government of East Timor for US$350 million.

ConocoPhillips has been divesting some of resources and focusing in part on projects in Alaska and Louisiana, as well as in Canada and Asia. Asia Pacific and the Middle East together are the second-largest segment in ConocoPhillips portfolio by production, and include the assets in Australia as well as producing fields in China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Qatar.

The deal with Santos covers the company's 56.9% interest in the Darwin liquefied natural gas facility and the Bayu-Undan field that feeds it, a 37.5% stake in the Barossa gas project, its 40% in the Poseidon field and 50% in the Athena field.

ConocoPhillips said it will hold on to its 37.5% stake in the Australia Pacific LNG project on Australia's east coast, and will remain the operator of the project's LNG facility.

Proceeds from the sale to Santos, which may include an additional US$75 million contingent on a final investment decision being taken on the Barossa project, will be used for general corporate purposes, it said.

For Santos, one of Australia's largest independent oil and gas producers, the assets it is picking up will lift its earnings per share by about 16% in 2020 and increase pro-forma production by about 25%, it said. Santos already is a partner of ConocoPhillips in the north, and has an 11.5% stake in the Darwin LNG project's infrastructure and a 25% interest in the Barossa development that is set to supply the LNG operation in the future.

Santos said it expects a final investment decision on the roughly US$4.7 billion Barossa project early next year, with first LNG anticipated in 2024. The gas from the Barossa field is expected to extend the life of the Darwin LNG operation by more than 20 years.


Write to Robb M. Stewart at


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 13, 2019 18:34 ET (22:34 GMT)

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