BY Matt Atkins
In the three month period to 31 March, US oil and gas M&A volume activity reached its highest Q1 volume in over a decade, according to PwC US. Deal value was also up on Q1 2013, with a total of 43 oil and gas deals valued greater than $50m, compared to 41 deals the previous year. However, although volume was particularly high for the period, it slipped by 23 percent compared to the 56 deals of the fourth quarter in 2013. Deal value in the first three months also slumped on the fourth quarter, declining 54 percent from $43bn.
Increased activity in the upstream sector and a growing foreign interest in US oil and gas assets drove activity, according to Doug Maeir, energy sector deals leader at PwC US. “The first three months of 2014 represented a historic first quarter across the board led by deal activity in the upstream sector, including in the Gulf of Mexico and interest from foreign players,” he said. “Divestures continue to be a major source of deal activity, but we are seeing smaller deals taking place; larger portfolio adjustments have already been made. Smaller deals are also happening in the oilfield services sector as a result of companies selectively looking to fill in the white space by adding assets that can increase productivity and reduce costs.”
Shale extraction proved a significant driver of transactions, with 17 deals totalling $6.2bn related to shale plays. “First quarter shale deal activity was on par with what we anticipated as we see the continued shift towards unconventionals,” said John Brady, a Houston-based PwC partner. “A third of total deal value was related to shale plays in the first three months of the year, indicating the ongoing attractiveness of capitalising on the long-term prospects for shale gas.
Mega deals down
Master limited partnerships (MLPs) were involved in 11 of the first quarter’s transactions, representing approximately 27 percent of total deal activity. Financial investors continued to show interest in the industry, and were behind two total transactions, totalling $1.9bn. This represents a 230 percent jump in deal value compared to the same time period last year. Bumper deals were down, however, according to PwC. The first three months of 2014 saw five mega deals, representing $10.1bn. This compares to eight mega deals worth $19.7bn during Q1 2013.