BP Sells Again

Late last week, BP (NYSE: BP  ) announced that it's selling its Canadian natural-gas-liquids operations to Plains All American Pipeline (NYSE: PAA  ) for $1.67 billion. The deal is one of many BP is counting on to scrape up $30 billion to help pay for last year's Gulf of Mexico oil spill and refocus operations.

The deal
The sale is a boon for Plains All American Pipeline, a company with 2,480 miles of pipelines and 8.3 billion cubic feet of daily gas-processing capacity. BP is selling the company 2,600 miles of pipeline, special gas-extracting plants, and storage facilities.

BP said it will continue to operate in Canada, placing its efforts on joint ventures that focus on oil extraction from Alberta's oil sands. While oil is more lucrative than natural gas liquids, oil sands development is also more expensive. If the price of oil should decline for some reason, focusing solely on oil sands will hurt BP's bottom line in Canada.

Other recent divestitures
In September, BP jettisoned its fuel marketing operations in five African countries for $296 million. Two months later, the company sold its stake in a deep-water field in the Gulf of Mexico to Stone Energy (NYSE: SGY  ) for $204 million.

Still on the table
The company has two U.S. refineries up for sale, one in California and one in Texas. BP is expecting to make $4 billion if or when it finds a buyer. Originally hoping for a bite by the end of 2012, the company has pushed the timetable back to 2013.

On top of that, BP attempted to sell its stake in an Argentine joint venture to CNOOC (NYSE: CEO  ) and Bridas Energy by Nov. 1. The deal would have been worth $7 billion and could have gone a long way toward helping BP reach that $30 billion in asset sales, but it fell through at the last minute. BP said it was weighing all its options regarding the properties and that it may return to long-term ownership -- now that oil prices are higher, of course.

BP must see something in the future of this field, because Chinese companies are buying up overseas oil and gas outfits like they're going out of style. Last year, Sinopec (NYSE: SHI  ) spent $7.1 billion picking up a stake in a Repsol operation in Brazil and bought out Occidental Petroleum's (NYSE: OXY  ) subsidiary in Argentina for $2.5 billion. The company recently threw down another $2.1 billion for Daylight Energy, a Canadian oil and gas producer.

CNOOC has also gone on record saying it will continue to look for overseas opportunities.

Foolish takeaway
After the Canadian gas deal, BP will have sold just shy of $21 billion in assets since the Deepwater Horizon disaster, inching closer to its $30 billion target. The company has to be careful balancing the asset divestments that could ultimately result in a decline in production and hurt the bottom line. Ultimately, it may actually be a blessing that it has held on to its Argentine joint venture.

Fool contributor Aimee Duffy doesn't own shares of the companies mentioned in this article. If you have the energy, check out what she's keeping an eye on by following her on Twitter, where she goes by @TMFDuffy. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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  • Report this Comment On December 06, 2011, at 10:31 AM, mm5525 wrote:

    PAA, while not the focus of this article, got a good deal here in my view. It sure makes those PAA secondary offerings of units worthwhile when they buy assets such as these from BP. PAA has been a great performer for me and should continue to outperform.

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