LLOG Exploration Company L.L.C. and Blackstone today announced the formation of a long-term, strategic partnership and have committed to invest over $1.2 billion to expand and accelerate LLOG’s offshore operations in the Gulf of Mexico.
The partnership will leverage the combined operational and financial resources of LLOG and private equity funds managed by Blackstone (collectively with their affiliates “Blackstone”) to expedite development of LLOG’s four recent deepwater discoveries as well as the exploration and appraisal of its extensive prospect inventory, which includes over 110 offshore leases. In addition, the partnership will expand LLOG’s asset base in the Gulf of Mexico through federal lease sale participation, farm-ins and M&A activities, further building upon its position as one of the largest private companies in the basin. This strategic partnership is the largest private equity financing executed in the Gulf of Mexico to date.
LLOG is one of the top 10 privately owned oil and gas companies in the U.S. and one of the largest private operators in the Gulf of Mexico (“GOM”). LLOG operates over 95% of its reserves and 86% of its prospects. During the last two years, the Company has made four consecutive discoveries, including two deepwater Gulf of Mexico discoveries to date during 2012, and over the last 10 years the Company has yielded an exploration drilling success rate of 70%.
Blackstone is one of the largest alternative asset managers in the world, with more than $205 billion in assets under management and a leading energy sector private equity investing franchise with an extensive, successful track record of investing in partnership with exceptional management teams seeking to fully capitalize on growth opportunities. Blackstone is currently investing from two private equity funds which aggregate over $19.3 billion of committed capital including Blackstone Energy Partners (“BEP”), its dedicated energy sector fund.
Who Dat not included
Last year, LLOG commenced production from its Who Dat discovery, an asset which is excluded from this partnership. The Who Dat Field, with estimated reserves of 200 to 300 million barrels of oil equivalent, is one of the largest discoveries in the GOM during the last several years. This field is producing through the first privately owned floating production system in the GOM, the Opti-Ex, which the Company acquired and brought online in less than three years, a record setting pace for a development of its type. Importantly, LLOG is also focused on maintaining a strong long-term track record in the areas of health, safety and environment and was the most recent company to be awarded the coveted Safe Operations and Reporting (SOAR) Award by the industry regulatory agency.
Scott Gutterman, LLOG’s CEO, commented, “We are very excited to form this unique, significant, and long-term strategic partnership with Blackstone. This is the first time that we have joined forces with an equity partner on a Company wide basis, and we cannot imagine a more suitable partner to mark this significant inflection point for LLOG. This transaction is indicative of the many exciting assets and opportunities we have at LLOG and will enable us to capture opportunities that we could not otherwise pursue. We believe the Gulf of Mexico deepwater is one of the most attractive oil plays in the world, and we expect to continue to be a long-term, significant player in the basin. I believe that with our deep technical and operations team, experience and assets in the GOM combined with Blackstone’s team, extensive capital resources, oil and gas expertise and industry resources, we will be able to take our business, activity levels and assets to the next level. We are very excited about the risk profile and depth of our prospect inventory, the associated resource potential and the operational, capital and human resources we will bring to safely develop and expand our asset base for our partnership.”
Angelo Acconcia, the Managing Director who leads Blackstone Energy Partners’ global oil and gas investing practice, commented, “We are very excited to form this long-term partnership with LLOG to accelerate the growth and development of LLOG’s attractive and extensive portfolio of discoveries and prospects. LLOG has a very talented and experienced technical and operations team, one of the best we have seen in the GOM and the Company has an incredible track record of exploration and development success, operational excellence and strong safety and environmental practices. To complement this, LLOG is a highly efficient deepwater operator, with the history and ability to accelerate development, minimizing the timeframe to first production and significantly increasing project returns.” David Foley, Chief Executive Officer of Blackstone Energy Partners, stated, “We evaluate many potential investments in the energy sector but choose only a small number each year to pursue that we believe represent a combination of the most exceptional management teams with unique and large-scale opportunities to create value; LLOG is a great example of this.”
Yesterday, the Department of the Interior took the latest step as part of President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy to expand safe and responsible domestic energy production, holding a 39 million acre lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico.
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that the Central Gulf of Mexico oil and gas lease sale attracted $1,704,500,995 in high bids for tracts on the U.S. outer continental shelf offshore Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. A total of 56 offshore energy companies submitted 593 bids on 454 tracts covering more than 2,402,918 acres. The sum of all bids received totaled $2,602,563,726.
The lease sale builds on a series of actions taken by the Obama administration, including additional lease sales for both onshore and offshore areas for oil and gas development, to meet the President’s direction to continue to expand safe and responsible production of America’s important domestic resources.
“This sale, part of the President’s all-of-the-above energy strategy, is good news for American jobs, good news for the Gulf economy, and will bring additional domestic resources to market,” said Salazar, who opened the sale. “When it comes to domestic production, the President has made clear he is committed to expanding oil and natural gas production safely and responsibly, and today’s sale is just the latest example of his administration delivering on that commitment. The numbers speak for themselves: every year the President has been in office, domestic oil and gas production has increased, foreign imports of oil have decreased, and we are currently producing more oil than any time in the past eight years.”
The Central Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale 216/222, conducted by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), offered more than 39 million acres for oil and gas development on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf. The acreage included 7,434 tracts from three to more than 230 miles off the coast, in depths ranging from 10 to more than 11,200 feet (3 to 3,400 meters). BOEM estimates the economically recoverable hydrocarbons that could be produced as a result of the acreage offered ranges from 0.8 to 1.6 billion barrels of oil and 3.3 to 6.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
The sale builds on the successful Western Gulf of Mexico lease sale held by BOEM in December 2011 that made available more than 21 million acres – equal to an area the size of South Carolina – and attracted more than $337 million in high bids and included 20 companies submitting 241 bids on 191 tracts comprising over a million acres offshore Texas. In 2010, DOI offered nearly 37 million offshore acres to industry for oil and gas leasing.
“Before moving forward with Sale 216/222, we conducted a rigorous analysis of the environmental effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the Central Gulf of Mexico,” said BOEM Director Tommy P. Beaudreau. “We have also continued a number of lease terms designed to ensure fair return to the American people and provide innovative incentives to promote diligent development of our nation’s offshore oil and gas resources.”
Yesterday’s highest bid on a tract was $157,111,000 submitted by Statoil Gulf of Mexico LLC for Mississippi Canyon, Block 718. Shell submitted the highest total amount in bonus bids, $406,594,560 on 24 tracts.
Lease terms for both sales included escalating rental rates to encourage faster exploration and development of leases as well as shorter lease terms for shallower water in order to encourage timely development. BOEM has increased its minimum bid requirement in deepwater to $100 per acre, up from $37.50 in previous Central lease sales. Rigorous historical analysis showed that leases that received high bids of less than $100 per acre have experienced virtually no exploration and development activities.
Lessees will have to comply with a series of important environmental stipulations, including requirements to protect biologically sensitive features, as well as marine mammals and sea turtles, and employ trained observers to ensure compliance and restrict operations when conditions warrant. These terms will help ensure an appropriate balance of responsible resource development with protection of the human, marine and coastal environments.
Each high bid on a tract will now go through a strict evaluation process within BOEM to ensure the public receives fair market value before a lease is awarded. This is the final Gulf Lease Sale scheduled in the current Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program: 2007-2012.
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