Noble Energy seeks African targets, could consider divesting Leviathan – exec

14 Jun 14 – Noble Energy, a Houston, US-based oil and gas major, will seek assets in Africa while looking at possibly divesting its Leviathan asset, said Ian Gordon, Director of Exploration Strategy.

The company was hit by a request from Israel’s antitrust regulator at the end of 2014 to break its perceived monopoly by selling its interest in one of the country’s two major fields – Tamar and Leviathan.

EY has valued these two gas fields at USD 52bn. Noble has invested almost USD 2.4bn in developing its gas resources in Israel, according to reports. The total cost of the project has been calculated at USD 6.5bn.

The company estimates Leviathan’s gas resources at 21.9tr cubic feet.

On 2 June, Noble announced that it had received approval from the Petroleum Commissioner in the Ministry of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources for the development of the Leviathan project – a large step in ironing out Nobles’ bureaucratic woes in the country, according to the company.

This regulatory go-ahead will increase the value of Leviathan, and other companies are bound to realise that too, Gordon said.

Noble Energy is actively looking for upstream assets in Africa and would prefer offshore to onshore blocks, Gordon said. It is looking for major assets and is prepared to spend upwards of USD 100m to develop a potential target, he added.

The company’s equity stake sweet spot would be around a 30% ownership, Gordon said. Noble has an in-house team reviewing potential targets, he added.

In the first quarter of 2016, Noble booked a net loss of USD 228m, and total revenues for this period were USD 724m.

Noble Energy has a market capitalisation of USD 15.72bn. The company booked revenues of USD 5.1bn in 2014, according to its financial reports.

Institutional shareholders include Capital Research Global Investors (10.68%), Capital World Investors (10.11%), Vanguard Group (6.35%), Fidelity Management (5.5%), and State Street Global Investors (5.14%).

Noble Energy also has operations in the US, Suriname, the Falkland Islands, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Cyprus. Its most recent acquisition was the USD 2.1bn all-stock purchase of Rosetta Resources in May 2015. 

Additionally, Gordon denied recent reports in the press that Noble may be looking to divest its stake in the Aphrodite gas field offshore of Cyprus. 

by Katie McQue

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