Energy Valuation Insights

A weekly update on issues important to the oil and gas industry

Category

Mergers, Acquisitions, & Divestitures


Current Events Eagle Ford Shale

SilverBow’s Shareholder Brawl

It’s an election year, and the battle is on. SilverBow Resources, a publicly traded oil and gas company operating in South Texas’ Eagle Ford shale, is wrapped up in a big conflict with some of its own shareholders. Kimmeridge Energy Management, both a large shareholder and a rival operator in the Eagle Ford, has proposed a merger (which it, at least temporarily, withdrew last month), and now is proposing several new board members in a proxy battle. The primary question centers on the direction of SilverBow’s value enhancement strategy. However, it appears this strategy hinges, in part, on its debt position, and dividend policy. Management has one idea on how this should go; Kimmeridge clearly has another.

Bakken Shale

The Beginning of a Bakken Behemoth

Chord Energy and Enerplus

In a significant development for the energy industry, on February 21, 2024, Chord Energy Corporation and Enerplus Corporation announced a definitive agreement to merge. This strategic combination aims to create a powerhouse in the Williston Basin, leveraging their complementary strengths and operational expertise. But acquisitions are not the only transactions happening in the Bakken. The University of North Dakota received substantial federal funding to investigate the potential of utilizing captured carbon dioxide to enhance oil recovery in the Bakken. As these narratives develop, only time will tell how both will shape the future of the area.

Eagle Ford Shale

Just Released | 1Q24 Exploration & Production Newsletter

REGION FOCUS: EAGLE FORD

The 1Q24 issue of Mercer Capital’s Exploration & Production newsletter focuses on the Eagle Ford. Despite significant rig-count declines, Eagle Ford production declined only modestly over the twelve months ended March 2024, aided by a significant number of DUCs going into production. Reasonably steady commodity prices helped offset the basin’s production decline, allowing the region’s comp group to post favorable price increases over the review period.

In addition to our overview of the Eagle Ford, this newsletter also contains:

– Oil and Gas Commodity Price Update
– Macro Update
– Industry M&A Activity
– Public Company Performance
– Production Update
– Rig Counts

Download the newsletter to stay up to date on the industry.

Special Topics

5 Reasons Upstream Sellers Need a Quality of Earnings Report

M&A deal flow was sidelined for much of 2022 and 2023, but pent-up M&A demand is expected to compel buyers and sellers to renew their efforts in 2024 and beyond. As deal activity recovers, sellers need to be prepared to present their value proposition in a compelling manner. This is when having an independent Quality of Earnings Report tailored to the seller’s needs becomes crucial. In this post, we review five reasons sellers benefit from a QofE report when responding to an acquisition offer or preparing to take their business models or assets to market.

Eagle Ford Shale

Eagle Ford M&A

Transaction Activity Plummets Over the Past 4 Quarters

The Eagle Ford shale has seen a significant decline in M&A activity over the past year, with only two deals closing compared to 13 in the prior year. However, recent purchases by Silverbow Resources and Crescent Energy signal a potential uptick in activity in the area. Meanwhile, Chesapeake Energy has fully divested from the Eagle Ford, focusing on natural gas-rich formations in the Marcellus and Haynesville shales. Despite the slowdown, Enverus Intelligence Research predicts an increase in M&A activity in the Eagle Ford in 2024.

Domestic Production

Themes from Q4 2023 Earnings Calls

Upstream (E&P) and Oilfield Service (“OFS”) Companies

Our latest analysis of Q4 2023 earnings calls in the energy sector reveals a consistent focus on efficiency and the impact of global demand. Upstream companies are capitalizing on international demand for LNG and LPG, while oilfield service firms are benefiting from efforts to enhance energy security worldwide. The industry’s commitment to operational effectiveness is evident in investments in durable inventory, conversion efficiency, and the integration of advanced technologies, positioning companies for future success in a market increasingly driven by sustainable energy solutions.

The Chesapeake and Southwestern Merger

Reshaping U.S. Natural Gas

Chesapeake Energy Corporation and Southwestern Energy Company announced a merger to create the largest natural gas producer in the United States, with an expected output of 7.9 billion cubic feet per day. This $7.4 billion all-stock deal, expected to close in the second quarter of 2024, will see Southwestern investors receiving 0.0867 shares of Chesapeake for each of their shares. The combined company, with an estimated enterprise value of $23 billion, hopes to gain easier access to capital, achieve investment-grade status, and possibly join the S&P 500 while navigating potential antitrust concerns and a potential decrease in NGL prices.

Special Topics

Themes from Q3 Earnings Calls

Part 2: Oilfield Service (“OFS”) Companies

Key themes we saw in Q3 earnings calls for oilfield service (“OFS”) companies were a rebound in activity, increased M&A in the space, and a focus on capital returns. Operators agree on a positive outlook for 2024, driven by factors like healthy commodity prices and global demand. As the industry evolves and OFS operators continue to make strategic shifts, we’ll keep you updated on future changes.

Marcellus and Utica Shale

Inside the Board Rooms of a $5.4 Billion Oil and Gas Merger

Explore the behind-the-scenes journey of the $5.4 billion merger between Sitio Royalties Corp., a key Marcellus Shale player, and Brigham Minerals, Inc. From initial boardroom discussions to the complex interplay of exchange ratios and legal negotiations, see how two of the largest public companies in the mineral and royalty sector and their legal and financial advisors navigated challenges to achieve a strategic consolidation. Read how business strategies, market conditions, and negotiations shaped an industry leader in mineral and royalty acquisitions.

Valuation Issues

Exxon’s Acquisition of Denbury

A Tale of Two Businesses, and Neither One Is Worth $4.9 Billion

Exxon made waves in the energy M&A markets by announcing its acquisition of Denbury, Inc. In total, the headline value was around $4.9 billion. However, while Denbury is an energy company on the whole, it is made up of two main segments that have very different economics, and neither of their business segments appears to be worth the $4.9 billion price tag. So what did Exxon buy exactly, and how might one value it?

Permian Basin

M&A in the Permian

Acquisition Growth Flat Ahead of Expected Surge

Despite a flat transaction activity in the Permian Basin over the past year, the increasing scarcity of Grade-A drilling sites has led to a spike in the value of deals, with two recently closed deals valued at over $2 billion each. Amidst this landscape, companies are paying more per acre than before, with the median price per net acre increasing by 43% year-over-year, potentially suggesting a shift in focus towards undeveloped acreage. Furthermore, recent transactions, such as Civitas Resources’ $4.7 billion acquisitions of oil-producing assets in the Midland and Delaware Basins, highlight the industry’s continued attraction to the Permian Basin’s potential for high-return drilling inventory.

Special Topics

Is TXO’s Strategy Paying Off?

The TXO Energy Partners IPO

Amidst the current uncertainty in the upstream world, the case of TXO Energy Partners LP’s recent IPO provides valuable insights into investor behavior. TXO’s focus on optimizing existing wells, maintaining a conservative balance sheet, and a commitment to regular cash distributions are attracting investors seeking stability amidst unpredictable market conditions. We explore TXO’s story and what this might mean for the future of the upstream sector.

Domestic Production Special Topics

Earnings Stability and Geopolitical Volatility

Two Foes Are Battling Once More

In the mire of much of the chaotic goings on of the world energy markets and Ukraine over the past year, a lot of things have changed. Uncertainty has ruled the day. Commodity prices have now dropped significantly in the last six months. Yet, between the lines, there is optimism for the upstream industry as profitability and cash flows remain, and the possibility for acquisition premiums for target companies re-emerges in 2023.

Marcellus and Utica Shale

M&A in Marcellus & Utica Basins

Shareholder Value Creation Abounds; ESG Interest Waning

M&A transaction activity in the Marcellus & Utica shales increased in 2022 relative to 2021, with large industry players motivated by free cash flow growth and creating shareholder value and less motivated by championing the ESG cause. In this week’s post, we examine the two largest transactions that occurred in but were not limited to the Marcellus and Utica shales in 2022.

Bakken Shale

Bakken M&A

Increased Transaction Volume Continues into 2022

M&A transaction activity in the Bakken increased through year-to-date 2022 relative to the same time period in 2021 and consisted of a handful of large deals and numerous small deals. In this post, we discuss Bakken transaction activity as a whole and also dive deeper into the two largest Bakken transactions made this year.

Permian Basin

M&A in the Permian: Acquisitions Slow as Valuations Grow

Transaction activity in the Permian Basin cooled off this past year, with the transaction count decreasing to 21 deals over the past 12 months, a decline of 6 transactions, or 22%, from the 27 deals that occurred over the prior 12-month period.  This level is in line with the 22 transactions that occurred in the 12-month period ended mid June 2020. Read more in this week’s post.

Eagle Ford Shale

Eagle Ford M&A

Transaction Activity Over the Past 4 Quarters

M&A activity in the Eagle Ford has picked up over the past year in terms of both deal count and the amount of acreage involved. The 10 deals noted over the past year were split evenly between property/asset acquisitions and corporate transactions, such as the Desert Peak Minerals-Falcon Minerals Corporation merger announced in mid-January of this year. This signals a notable increase in corporate-level activity as only one of the eight transactions in the prior year involved a corporate transaction, possibly foreshadowing greater industry consolidation in the Eagle Ford moving forward. Read more in this week’s post.

Special Topics

Desert Peak to Go Public via Merger With Falcon After IPO Attempt

Desert Peak Minerals and Falcon Minerals Corporation recently announced an all-stock merger, forming a pro form a ~$1.9 billion mineral aggregator company.  This comes in the wake of Desert Peak’s attempted IPO in late 2021.  In this post, we look at the transaction terms and rationale, the implied valuation for Desert Peak, and implications for the mineral/royalties space.

Marcellus and Utica Shale Special Topics

M&A in Marcellus & Utica Basins

Activity in 2021 Was Muted Relative to 2020

M&A transaction activity in the Marcellus & Utica shrank in number in 2021 relative to 2020. However, the relatively greater magnitude of production density represented by the transactions in 2021 could prove to be a bellwether of more “transformational” transactions to come in 2022 as companies stake their claim in the gas and gas liquids-rich basins of Appalachia. In this week’s post we review M&A activity in 2021 including the EQT/Alta Resources and Northern Oil and Gas/Reliance transactions.

Special Topics

Chesapeake Finds Vine Ripe for the Picking

In August, Chesapeake Energy Corporation announced that it would acquire Vine Energy Inc. in a stock-and-cash transaction valued at approximately $2.2 billion. We previously discussed Vine’s IPO, which was the first upstream (non-minerals, non-SPAC) initial public offering since Berry Petroleum’s debut in mid-2017. 

Vine’s decision to be acquired in a ~0% premium transaction less than five months after its IPO speaks to the difficulty for E&P companies to manage public market dynamics even in a much-improved commodity price environment. 

In this post, we dig into the transaction rationale, look at relative value measures, and analyze how this transaction seems to indicate a shift in Chesapeake’s strategy.

Oil & Gas

Mercer Capital provides oil and gas companies, oil and gas servicers, and mineral & royalty owners with corporate valuation, asset valuation, litigation support, transaction advisory, and related services