The Wheel Keeps Turning In the Energy Sector

By Eric Fox | November 10, 2012 AAA

Earnings season for the energy sector for the third quarter of 2012 has ended and the industry got back to the usual business of exploring and developing resources and shuffling around oil and gas assets.

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Acquisitions
While Continental Resources (NYSE:CLR) is already one of the largest players in the Bakken in North Dakota and Montana, management has decided to add additional leasehold to its portfolio here. The company announced the purchase of 120,000 net acres in Divide and Williams County, North Dakota for $650 million. The acquired properties have both developed and undeveloped acreage, with current production of 6,500 barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) per day.

Continental Resources has leveraged the development of the Bakken and Three Forks to grow aggressively over the last few years, with the company reporting year-over-year production growth of 55% in the third quarter of 2012. After the acquisition closes, Continental Resources will have 1.1 million net acres under lease prospective for these formations.

SEE: A Guide To Investing In Oil Markets

Divestitures
SandRidge Energy (NYSE:SD) reported earnings for the third quarter of 2012 and disclosed its intention to find a buyer for its oil and gas properties in the Permian Basin. The properties currently produce 24,500 BOE per day and the company will use the proceeds to fund its capital program targeting various Mississippian formations in the Mid-Continent area.

The company has a large development program in the Permian Basin and drilled 214 wells here during the most recent quarter. Its full year program in the Permian Basin includes 10 operated rigs and 740 wells during the year.

SandRidge Energy has been the target of shareholder activism and received a letter from TPG-Axon, a large institutional shareholder of the company. The letter called for major changes at the company, including the replacement of the CEO.

SEE: Oil And Gas Industry Primer

Joint Ventures
Encana (NYSE:ECA) and Nucor (NYSE:NUE) entered into an agreement to jointly develop natural gas assets in the Piceance Basin in Colorado. The agreement will ensure a steady supply of this key commodity for Nucor's operations, while Encana will get needed capital to help pay the development cost of these properties.

Encana has a large operation in the Piceance Basin and reported natural gas production of 476 million cubic feet per day from here in the third quarter of 2012.

EXCO Resources (NYSE:XCO) and Harbinger Group (NYSE:HRG) also announced an agreement on the future development of natural gas properties in Texas and Louisiana. The two companies will contribute properties and cash to a limited partnership, which will have approximately 124,000 net acres and production of 100 million cubic feet of natural gas equivalents per day.

Exploration
French oil company Total SA (NYSE:TOT) is planning to explore for oil and gas in Kazakhstan and reported the purchase of a 75% interest in two onshore concession areas in this Central Asian nation. Total has been involved in Kazakhstan since the early 1990s and owns a 16.8% ownership stake in the giant Kashagan field in the Caspian Sea.

The Bottom Line
The energy sector made it through the third quarter earnings season of 2012 relatively unscathed and resumed its search for oil and gas resources along with the capital needed to develop these plays and provide energy for the next few decades.

At the time of writing, Eric Fox did not own any shares in any company mentioned in this article.

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