Sundance energy will look to acquire more U.S. shale assets

Sundance Energy Australia Ltd. (SEA), an explorer that entered the Eagle Ford shale formation of Texas this year with the purchase of Texon Petroleum Ltd., said it will look to make further U.S. oil and gas acquisitions.

Sundance is capable of making another deal the size of the Texon transaction, valued at about A$100 million ($96 million), and will consider adding acreage through drilling leases or purchases, Managing Director Eric McCrady said in an interview in Sydney. The Denver-based company isn’t negotiating any acquisitions at present, he said.

Sundance, which also bought acres in Colorado in 2012, plans to invest about $225 million drilling wells in the U.S. this year and expects spending to increase next year. The company is focusing on oil and gas basins in Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma and North Dakota.

“Something the size of Texon is a manageable acquisition for us, and it could even be slightly larger,” McCrady said June 14. “The main focus right now is drilling up the assets we have today.”

In the U.S., a combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has unlocked supplies trapped in shale formations in states from North Dakota to Texas and sparked a wave of deals in the industry.

‘Below Radar’

The company was the third-best performer on Australia’s S&P/ASX 300 Energy Index in the last 12 months, with only Caltex Australia Ltd. (CTX) and Linc Energy Ltd. (LNC) posting bigger gains. The company expects to drill as many as 40 wells next year, compared with as many as 30 wells this year, McCrady said.

Sundance, which is traded in Sydney and has a market value of about about A$394 million, acquired about 7,300 net acres in the Eagle Ford through the Texon deal.

“We need to be acquiring assets that are below the radar of larger competitors who drive up valuations,” McCrady said.

Sundance Energy raised A$48.1 million selling shares and plans to use the proceeds partly to accelerate development in the Eagle Ford, it said May 31. The company had about $145 million of cash at the end of March, it said this month.