Total Buys $2.3 Billion Utica Shale Stake From Chesapeake
Comment of the Day

January 03 2012

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Total Buys $2.3 Billion Utica Shale Stake From Chesapeake

This article by Brian Swint for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:
Total bought a stake in Chesapeake's Barnett Shale field in Texas in 2010 and has advanced unconventional gas projects in Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Canada, Denmark and Poland. Total said in October it may work with China Petrochemical Corp. to explore shale in the country that consumes the most energy in the world.

“Given current weakness of U.S. natural gas, now below $3, it is clear to us that Total is being attracted by the liquid- rich portion of this acreage,” said Bertrand Hodee, head of oil and gas research at Kepler Capital Markets in Paris.

Eoin Treacy's view My view – This is the latest in a succession of acquisitions in the unconventional oil and gas sector. Major companies continue to increase their representation in shale oil and gas. Access to conventional reserves is becoming ever more dominated by national companies and independent companies have little choice but to diversify if they wish to maintain reserve life. Unconventional oil and gas remains a growth industry in the USA and as the above paragraph suggests, is becoming an increasingly global phenomenon.

Total Fina has an historic P/E of 7.53 and dividend yield of 7.09%. The share rallied impressively from the September lows, following a failed downside break, as the Libyan political situation stabilised. It spent much of the last couple of months consolidating above €35 and broke upwards to a new 6-month high today. A sustained move below €37 would be required to begin to question medium-term scope for additional higher to lateral ranging.

A number of other European oil companies such as ENI (6.9%), Statoil (3.93%) and BP (4.22%) which have previously been considered laggards have also performed well over the last month and hit new 6-month highs today.

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