Breard, the Hodges Capital analyst, says that SandRidge, as one of the first natural gas companies to venture into oil, is ahead of the game in that area and has been "more successful than most in making the transition from gas to oil."Foreseeing the possibility of a decline in natural gas prices, SandRidge preempted the drop and started transitioning to oil more than three years ago despite skepticism over how it was spending shareholders' money. The company had been 53.8% natural gas and 46.2% oil as of January, according to Fidelity Capital Markets. Morningstar analysts note that the contrarian approach that SandRidge has been taking by focusing on the more straightforward, conventional shale drilling opportunities instead of the unconventional emerging shale plays many peers have been chasing should allow for a more predictable, low-cost development of the producer's assets. Assuming the launch of the Cheniere's LNG export terminal comes to pass in 2016, Chesapeake, Devon and SandRidge could be lined up for a nice windfall opportunity through the potential sale of their natural gas properties to very willing buyers. Such buyers, most likely those with ties to the LNG export terminal, would likely want to exploit the much higher overseas natural gas prices and sell the commodity abroad; even with the reduction of excess domestic supply, it's expected that it would be a while before the very low U.S. natural gas prices finally caught up to overseas prices, especially those in Asia and Europe. "Big companies with ties to LNG export terminals may buy gas reserves from those without such ties and be perfectly happy to drill dry gas wells, liquefy the gas, and sell LNG overseas at twice the U.S. gas price when export terminals are ready to go in 2015 or 2016," says Breard. Buyers may include British energy company BG Group, and Blackstone as well as Chevron (CVX) and Total (TOT), which both have contracts with Cheniere to import LNG. Having been long-time supporters of Cheniere, Chevron and Total should have the ability to sign export contracts with the company, Breard points out. Breard says buyers could also include Exxon (XOM) and BP (BP), which all have long-term goals to be in natural gas. -- Written by Andrea Tse in New York.
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