Ernst & Young, the international consultancy, analyses in its Global Oil and Gas Transactions Review the growing importance of exploration for and extraction of shale gas.
“Last year’s spending on shale-related transactions in the upstream sector was in excess of US$ 66bn, with a majority of this activity occurring in North America”, reads the document. The above sum represents over 20 percent of all merger and acquisition [M&A] deals in the fuel sector. In the shale gas market, the acquisition of Petrohawk Energy, the U.S. shale gas producer, by BHP Billiton, the world’s largest mining group, for US$ 15bn, ranked as the largest transaction of this type.
The Chinese also made noteworthy moves in this market. In 2011 they transacted two deals in North America, worth jointly about US$ 3.4bn. These transactions, both made by CNOOC group, were related to production from unconventional gas and oil reserves. Ernst & Young consultants believe the Chinese did this with a view to obtaining technology to develop their own shale gas reserves, which account for nearly one-fifth of the global reserves. “These seemingly modest deals could turn out to be highly significant to the global fuel and oil sector in the perspective of a decade or more” comments Marek Kamiński, an Ernst & Young expert.
Shale-related deals took place also in Poland. Of the five transactions reported, the acquisition of Realm Energy by San Leon Energy, for US$ 91m, was the largest. All in all, 2011 saw 71 acquisitions with a total worth of over US$ 1bn, five less than a year earlier. Also, the value of the largest transaction in the sector was lower than in the previous year. This is certainly attributable in part to government-set hurdles. The report cites, as examples, the moratorium imposed by the New York State on hydraulic fracturing of shale formations and the ban imposed by the French government on the use of this technology.
Even so, the global shale boom continues, contends Ernst & Young. This is borne out by the numbers and values of shale-related transactions. “In 2011 half of all M&A transactions in the upstream sector were related to the exploration for and extraction of gas and oil from shales”, adds Kamiński. The fuel and oil sector was one of the few sectors relatively invulnerable to the debt crisis-related turmoil.
In 2011 fuel groups were looking actively for M&A opportunities. Worldwide, 5 percent more such deals were concluded than in 2010, but their total value was 7 percent less than a year earlier. “This was due to there being less large-caliber deals capable of changing the sector’s landscape on the global scale”, comments another Ernst & Young expert, Bartłomiej Smolarek. He says: “It is only this year that we’ll find out whether investors’ appetite for M&A activity has remained unchanged now that external financing opportunities are considerably restricted by the debt crisis and the highly volatile resource prices”.
Source: Nasz Dziennik, 18 February 2012, p. 6, by Piotr Falkowski
Other articles on the subject:
Rzeczpospolita, p. 5, Dużo przejęć wydobywających gaz łupkowy [Many Shale Gas Asset Acquisitions] Gazeta Polska Codziennie, p. 8, Polskie łupki [Polish Shales] and Światowy boom trwa [A Global Boom Continues].