BP's Strategic Moves

Published in Investing on 19 April 2012

The company is streamlining its portfolio with an eye on the future.

A version of this article originally appeared on our US site, Fool.com.

As demand for crude oil keeps increasing, exploration and production companies are constantly restructuring their asset portfolios in order to gain access to more superior and longer-lasting reserves. Big Oil companies, especially, struggle to ensure steady growth in production volumes from their far-flung resources across the globe.

The latest deal

BP (LSE: BP), in its latest move, has agreed to sell off its Southern Gas Assets, or SGA, in the North Sea to privately held Perenco U.K. for $400 million. However, this does not mean that the North Sea is losing its status as a prolific oil reserve. On the other hand, the oil giant has six major projects under way off the coast of the U.K. and Norway, with plans to invest $10 billion in the next five years.

Which is why the latest sell-off looks logical. Management is streamlining its focus here by divesting assets that aren't part of its core holdings. It could also be that the Cleeton, West Sole, and Amethyst fields (part of the SGA) have started showing signs of natural decline. Perenco, on the other hand, mentions in its press release that it "has a successful track record in prolonging the life of the mature assets it operates."

Strategic play?

BP seems pretty serious about its long-term prospects, with major restructuring plans under way. Between 2010 and 2013, the company is planning to divest $38 billion worth of assets. In line with this, divestitures worth $20 billion have already taken place. Of course, part of the funds were used to finance costs involved with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. However, the company's focus seems to be the long term, and BP isn't the only one.

So far in 2012, ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM.US) has either announced or completed divestiture programs worth a whopping $6.1 billion! In January, the super-major completed the divestiture of some of its North Sea assets to Apache for $1.75 billon. Similarly, Chevron (NYSE: CVX.US) has announced divestitures worth $800 million so far this year.  

BP doesn't seem to be far behind in terms of streamlining its reserves portfolio. Management's focus on the long term looks interesting. Production growth in the next couple of years could be likely.

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