LONDON Oct 27 (Reuters) – BHP Billiton is planning to sell its Fayetteville shale gas assets in the United States, the mining and energy group said on Monday, in the latest effort to trim its portfolio in the region and focus on more profitable petroleum liquids.
The petroleum division of BHP, the world’s largest miner, is one of the largest foreign investors in the U.S. onshore oil and gas sector. The unit has grown in importance within BHP in the least few years, thanks to a market outlook that has been brighter for energy than for other commodities.
Within the petroleum business, however, BHP has made it clear it intends to focus on liquid products in the United States, a more lucrative business than dry gas.
Chief Executive Andrew Mackenzie, a former BP executive, told investors that the company had begun “marketing” the Fayetteville acreage, which it bought in 2011 but wrote down by $2.8 billion a year later after gas prices fell.
“The chances for us to develop it in the near term are very low to non-existent, and therefore it should be worth a lot more to someone… who is more obviously a natural owner,” he said.
The sale will only go ahead if BHP gets offers above an undisclosed floor price, the company added during its presentation to investors in London.
BHP will, however, develop the Haynesville shale in Louisiana, which it says is a higher-return project. Continued…