EPL announces $550 million deal for Gulf assets

In a deal that effectively doubled the size of the company’s reserves, EPL Oil & Gas Inc. announced a $550 million deal today to acquire shallow-water oil and gas assets in the Gulf of Mexico from Hilcorp Energy Co.

“We’ve been very patient, very disciplined buyers,” said Gary Hanna, EPL CEO and president. “This deal ticks off all those boxes.”

Analysts said the deal makes the company, which is based in New Orleans and also maintains offices in Houston, a force to be reckoned with in the Gulf, doubling its proved reserves to approximately 74 million barrels of oil equivalent.

Houston-based Hilcorp did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Hanna told analysts this morning that the company sold the assets in order to concentrate on its assets in the Eagle Ford Shale and Alaska.

EPL said the Gulf assets currently produce approximately 10,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, about half of which are oil, and include three fields that Hilcorp acquired from Chevron Corp. in the Ship Shoal Block 208, South Pass 78 and South Marsh Island 239, all near EPL’s existing core field areas.

The company said it has submitted a 10 percent cash deposit to Hilcorp and expects the deal to close by Oct. 31. It will be financed through cash on hand and financing from the Bank of Montreal, according to a statement from the company.

Chad Mabry, an analyst with the KLR Group, said the acquisition appeared to be a good move for EPL, essentially doubling the size of the company.

“They have established a very good track record … on the shelf,” he said.

The deal follows several recent big deals in the Gulf, and Mabry said there has been a general uptick in mergers and acquisitions.

That’s been true in the Gulf as larger operators look onshore, he said.

“EPL is the type of company looking to actively consolidate in the Gulf,” he said. “They’ve been on the hunt for good acquisitions. This is one that … makes them a force to be reckoned with in the Gulf.”