Anadarko may sell Mozambique gas fields

Anadarko Petroleum Corp., the independent oil and natural-gas producer paying $4 billion for its role in an oil spill last year, is mulling the possible sale of a portion of its Mozambique gas fields.

Mozambique is a “tremendous asset” and presents an opportunity for Anadarko to possibly “monetize” the holdings, Chuck Meloy, a senior vice president of worldwide operations, said at a Capital One Southcoast conference in New Orleans that was broadcast on the Internet today.

Anadarko, based in The Woodlands, Texas, said Nov. 28 that fields off the coast of Mozambique may have 15 trillion to 30 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas, compared with an earlier estimate of at least 10 trillion cubic feet. The company has said it plans to decide in 2013 whether to build a liquefied natural gas plant in the country.

“What they’re basically doing is saying, ‘As we create some value, we’re going to take some of that value and collect it as cash up front rather than waiting five or 10 years for the project,’” Bob Brackett, a senior analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein in New York, said in a telephone interview today.

Anadarko, the largest U.S. independent oil and gas producer by market value, has an agreement to pay London-based BP Plc $4 billion to settle claims related to an offshore U.S. oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last year. Anadarko had a stake in BP’s Macondo well, which caused the spill. Independent oil companies don’t own refining, chemical or retail fuel businesses.

Partner Possible

Brackett, who has a “market perform” on Anadarko shares and owns none, said the company may seek a partner such as a large integrated oil company to help with marketing and building of an LNG gas-export plant. A facility that would turn the gas into liquid for exporting may cost $6 billion or more, Brackett said.

Anadarko has said it may look to build two to six LNG production units so gas could be sent to Asia or elsewhere. The company’s current Mozambique partners include Cove Energy Plc and Mitsui & Co.

Anadarko has said it’s considering a sale of its share in Brazilian offshore blocks to help pay off debt, assets analysts estimate may be worth $3 billion to $5 billion.

Anadarko President Al Walker said at a Bank of America Corp. conference on Nov. 15 the company will probably make a final investment decision on the Mozambique project before deciding on a possible sale of some holdings.

“We hope there will be options to consider how to use the position that we’ve taken to lever it into using some other people’s money along the way to the benefit of them as well as ourselves,” Walker said last month. “It is going to be a very capital-intensive project, as LNG projects are.”

Anadarko, Walker said, has been “pretty good about thinking about how to monetize things.”

Anadarko fell 0.3 percent to $81.47 at 1:52 p.m. in New York.