Talisman, Statoil Said to Weigh Sale of Texas Shale Venture

May 06, 2014 10:31 am ET

(Updates with comment from analyst in fourth paragraph.)

May 6 (Bloomberg) -- Talisman Energy Inc. and Statoil ASA are considering selling their joint venture in Texas’s oil-rich Eagle Ford basin, which could fetch more than $4 billion, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The companies have interviewed banks to manage a sale of the 50-50 partnership, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. A sale could draw interest from large exploration companies such as Encana Corp., Murphy Oil Corp., and Devon Energy Corp. that want to acquire more oil-producing properties, one of the people said.

Talisman and Statoil have been selling assets around the world as they seek to slim down and raise capital for more profitable drilling projects. Calgary-based Talisman solicited offers last year for its 50 percent interest in the Eagle Ford, and couldn’t find a buyer in part because Statoil wasn’t ready to exit, three of the people familiar with the matter said.

Talisman said in March it’s targeting $2 billion of asset sales in 18 months. A sale of the Eagle Ford venture could mean the company hits that target with a single deal, “which would positively surprise the market,” Phil Skolnick, an analyst at Canaccord Genuity Corp. in New York, wrote in a note today.

Talisman rose 0.5 percent to C$11.16 at 10:25 a.m. in Toronto, after earlier gaining as much as 2 percent. Statoil, based in Stavanger, Norway, climbed 0.7 percent to 184.1 kroner in Oslo.

Carl Icahn

Simon Scott, a spokesman for Talisman, declined to comment, as did Knut Rostad, a spokesman for Statoil. A representative for Encana declined to comment, while spokesmen for Devon and Murphy didn’t return calls seeking comment.

Statoil took over operations of the eastern part of the joint venture in July 2013, the companies announced last year. It produces 27,700 barrels of oil equivalent per day, according to Statoil’s 2013 annual report.

Talisman agreed in December to appoint two board members backed by Carl Icahn, after the activist investor took a stake in the company. It hired Toronto-Dominion Bank in April to sell its operations in Canada’s Central Foothills region, according to Toronto-Dominion’s website.