March 7, 2018 / 8:08 PM / 2 years ago

BHP says will consider asset swaps as part of shale exit

FILE PHOTO - BHP Billiton Chief Executive Andrew Mackenzie is silhouetted against a screen projecting the company's logo at a round table meeting with journalists in Tokyo, Japan June 5, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File photo

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Global miner BHP (BHP.AX) BLT.L will consider swapping certain onshore oil and gas assets with competitors’ offshore assets, as part of its effort to exit U.S. shale formations, Steve Pastor, BHP’s president for petroleum operations, said on Wednesday.

BHP, facing calls from activist investor Elliott Advisors tomake changes to its business, had previously said it plans to sell its onshore U.S. shale assets. BHP said last week that the stake was on track with initial bids expected in the June quarter.

“We’re also talking with some counterparties in very specific circumstances about the potential to do some asset swaps and pick up some high quality tier 1 acreage,” Pastor said, referring to the most promising offshore assets. Any swap would need to be competitive with what BHP could fetch in a sale, he said.

BHP is not looking for existing production platforms, he said, speaking to Reuters at the CERAWeek by IHS Markit conference. Rather, the company is seeking acreage that has been found viable for production, “where we can come in as an operator and really unlock significant incremental value through the development phase.”

The assets swaps could augment the company’s exploration programme, he said. Pastor said the company would consider selling dividing its acreage for multiple buyers; it currently owns onshore U.S. assets in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas.

Reporting By Jessica Resnick-Ault; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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