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Talisman Oil Stake Up for Grabs in Kurdistan

By Charles Kennedy | Mon, 30 September 2013 21:16 | 0

Having difficulty selling off other assets and suffering from depressed North American natural gas prices, Canada’s Talisman Energy is looking to divest some of its prize holdings in emerging energy darling, Kurdistan.

Up for grabs will be a stake in two exploration projects in Kurdistan—one in which it has a 40% interest, along with Canada’s WesternZagros (40%) and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG, 20%) and another in which it has a 60% interest, with the KRG holding 40%.

Talisman has a total of 119,000 acres of oil exploration property in Kurdistan, with those assets valued at between $750 million and $1.25 billion.

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Talisman is seeking to cut costs by around 20% this year in the wake of poor quarterly financial results that are down some 50% over last year due largely to a natural-gas-heavy portfolio.

In Kurdistan, Talisman shouldering too large a portion of the burden of developing significant finds, particularly in the block it owns solely with the Kurdish government.

"We're in active discussions with several parties about reducing our interests there," Talisman CEO Hal Kvisle told the Wall Street Journal. "We probably have more financial exposure to that than we want."

"We're into what appears to be a fairly significant oil discovery in Kurdistan, [but] on the larger half of that structure we're paying 100% of the costs for a 60% interest," he said.

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Originally, Talisman was intended to divest other assets—not Kurdistan—to raise $3 billion. Those assets include a pipeline in Colombia, North Sea oil assets and natural gas stakes in British Columbia and Alberta—but so far, no takers.  

The question now is what else is Talisman willing to give up? As quoted by the Wall Street Journal, Kvisle says the board isn’t ruling anything out. “We are not actively seeking a buyer for the company, but if people were to express interest we would not reject it out of hand.”

By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com

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