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ConocoPhillips Completes Algeria Oil Unit Sale

ConocoPhillips has completed the sale of its Algeria business unit ConocoPhillips Algeria Ltd. to Indonesian state-owned Pertamina for $1.75 billion, as it seeks to reshuffle its assets despite an uptick in investor interest in Algeria’s oil and gas scene.

While the juniors are increasingly braving the risky new frontiers, the majors are moving toward more immediately profitable unconventional plays in North America.

ConocoPhillips Algeria Ltd. holds interests in three major onshore oil fields that averaged production of 11,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, with net assets of about $850 million.

The unit operates the Menzel Lejmat North field with 65% interest. Its other interests are Ourhoud 3.7% and nonproducing EMK 16.9%.

Algeria has an estimated 321 trillion cubic feet of recoverable shale gas that is being hungrily eyed by Europe as an alternative to Russian supplies.

Algeria plans to outpace its neighbors, and is already working out how to import hydraulic fracturing technology to speed things along.

Pertamina is Indonesia's largest oil and gas firm by output.

"This major acquisition provides Pertamina with significant volumes of high quality crude and represents a key milestone in our international upstream business expansion efforts," said President Director and CEO, Karen Agustiawan, in a press release.

Last week, Pertamina also finalized the purchase of a 10% stake from ExxonMobil in Iraq’s West Qurna-1 oil field.

ConocoPhillips is shifting its balance sheet to focus on more profitable, less risky ventures in unconventional plays in North America.

The company’s US assets include nearly 2 million net acres across the Eagle Ford, Permian Basin, and the Bakken. Over the next five years, Conoco expects to spend $15 billion developing its acreage in these plays. Some $8 billion of this alone will be invested in Eagle Ford.

From 2012 through third-quarter 2013, the company has generated $12.4 billion in divestiture proceeds, while the original target was $8-10 billion.

ConocoPhillips recently sold its 8.4% interest in Kazakhstan's Kashagan oil field to the nation's state oil company, KazMunayGas, for $5.4 billion and its Nigerian assets to Nigerian oil company Oando.

By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com


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