HOUSTON (The Deal) -- Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold ( FCX) said Wednesday it agreed to sell its Eagle Ford Shale assets in South Texas to Canada's Encana ( ECA) for $3.1 billion to help pay down debt and focus on prospects in the Gulf of Mexico.
Encana will get Freeport-McMoRan's working interests in 45,500 net acres predominantly in Karnes County along with some in Wilson and Atacosa for around $14,000 to $15,000 per acre, which is net of 53,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day of production as of the first quarter. The production is 75% oil, 11% natural gas liquids and 14% natural gas.
The deal includes 355 gross producing wells along with an inventory of 400-plus gross future wells.
Encana called the acquisition a "bold strategic move" that will double its oil production and enhance its continuing efforts to reposition to a more balanced commodity portfolio and boost shareholder value.
"Gaining a position in a world class, oil-rich resource play like the Eagle Ford accelerates the transition of our portfolio and underscores our investment focus on high margin assets," Encana CEO and president Doug Suttles said in a statement. "With this transaction, combined with our announced divestments of Jonah and properties in East Texas, we're replacing natural gas production with high margin oil and liquids production."
Phoenix's Freeport-McMoRan expects net proceeds of $2.5 billion, half of which will be used to pay off debt and the other half to fund further investments in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico.
"The transaction is part of our plan to monetize approximately $4 billion in energy assets to provide meaningful proceeds for debt repayment while enabling us to refocus our asset base and capital allocation on our strategic growth areas in the Gulf of Mexico, which we believe provide industry leading margins, high impact long-term growth opportunities and superior investment returns," CEO Jim Flores said in a statement.