Anadarko Focusing on Onshore U.S. Operations

Though Anadarko Petroleum (NYSE: APC  ) is well known for its international asset portfolio, which includes sizable stakes in the Jubilee field off Ghana's shore, the El Merk project in Algeria's Sahara Desert, and exploratory prospects offshore various African countries, the company's onshore U.S. operations account for nearly 90% of its total production and 60% of this year's capital spending.

In fact, Anadarko is so optimistic about its growth runway in the U.S. that it recently sold some international assets to help fund its onshore U.S. drilling program. Let's take a closer look.

Mozambique sale to fund U.S. onshore growth
In late August, Anadarko sold its 10% interest in a gas field offshore Mozambique to India's ONGC Videsh for $2.64 billion in cash. The company will use the proceeds from the all-cash deal to further expand its operations in U.S. shale plays, especially the Wattenberg field in Colorado and the Eagle Ford shale in Texas, as well as in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico.

Anadarko is just one of many oil and gas producers shedding international assets in order to ramp up operations in onshore U.S. liquids-rich plays. Apache (NYSE: APA  ) , for instance, recently sold a third of its Egyptian oil and gas assets to Chinese oil company Sinopec (NYSE: SHI  ) in order to refocus on its "growth core" assets in Texas and Oklahoma, while Devon Energy (NYSE: DVN  ) divested the vast majority of its international assets back in 2009 and 2010 in order to concentrate on its U.S. onshore operations, especially in the Permian Basin and the Mississippi-Woodford trend.

Similarly, ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP  ) recently divested interests in international assets in Kazakhstan, Algeria, and Nigeria in order to focus on North American shale opportunities, which are expected to account for 60% of the firm's production growth through 2017, while Occidental Petroleum (NYSE: OXY  ) last month announced that it would sell a minority stake in its Middle East and north Africa business as it seeks to reduce geopolitical risk and focus on its North American operations.

Key onshore U.S. assets
One of Anadarko's most prized domestic assets is Colorado's Wattenberg field, where the company commands approximately 350,000 net acres in the core of the play. During the third quarter, Anadarko more than doubled its Wattenberg sales volume from 26,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day to 56,500 BOE per day.

Considering that it's generating rates of return in excess of 100% from the play, thanks to low development costs of roughly $13 per barrel of oil equivalent and high EURs of approximately 350 MBOE per well, this is a highly encouraging development for the company. And with plans to drill 350 wells in the play this year and roughly 4,000 horizontal drill sites remaining, Anadarko still has a huge runway for growth in the Wattenberg.

Anadarko also has a sizable position in the Eagle Ford shale, where it commands roughly 200,000 net acres. Like the Wattenberg, Anadarko's Eagle Ford assets also feature low development costs of approximately $13 per barrel of oil equivalent and high EURs of roughly 600 MBOE per well. The company also has a deep inventory of more than 2,500 drilling locations left in the play, which gives it plenty of room to grow production over the next several years.

The bottom line
In my view, Anadarko has a really nice balance of high-quality, liquids-rich domestic assets that offer predictable, repeatable growth and high-margin international megaprojects. If the company can continue to execute as well as it has in the Wattenberg and the Eagle Ford, it should be able to grow production at a 5%-7% CAGR through 2020 at current prices and at 7%-9% with gas prices at $4.50 per Mcf.

In addition, its various exploratory prospects off the coasts of various African countries provide plenty of additional upside, especially considering Anadarko's industry-leading 70% success rate in deepwater exploration and appraisal drilling so far this year. With such an exceptional outlook for production growth, I think investors should seriously consider picking up shares of Anadarko on a pullback in price.

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