2 Key Drivers of Anadarko’s Growth

When assessing an energy exploration and production company, one of the key things to look for is asset quality -- determined by factors such as the size of the company's reserves, per-unit production costs across its properties, gas/liquids mix, and other considerations.

In this respect, Anadarko Petroleum (NYSE: APC  ) stacks up quite nicely, featuring a diverse assortment of both domestic and international assets, with leading positions in key U.S. onshore resource plays and the Gulf of Mexico. Let's take a closer look.

U.S. onshore assets
Anadarko boasts a strong portfolio of domestic onshore assets, including sizable stakes in the Wattenberg field of northeastern Colorado, Texas' Eagle Ford shale and Permian Basin, Pennsylvania's Marcellus shale, Ohio's Utica shale, and the Powder River, Green River, and Uinta basins of Wyoming and Utah.

These plays represent the vast majority of Anadarko's total output, accounting for nearly 90% of production last year and 60% of the company's capital budget for the year. Going forward, the Wattenberg and Eagle Ford assets should continue to be Anadarko's biggest drivers of oil production growth. Both plays are generating exceptional returns for the company, thanks to development costs of just $13 per barrel of oil equivalent and estimated ultimate recoveries ranging from 350,000-600,000 BOE per well.

Between the two plays, Anadarko reckons it has roughly 6,500 drilling locations remaining, which gives it plenty of room to ramp up production in the years ahead. In addition, the company is targeting the emerging Wolfcamp shale in the Permian-Delaware basin, where six recently evaluated wells yielded high gross processed initial production rates ranging from 1,000 to 1,600 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

Several other companies are also expanding their presence in the Wolfcamp, including Devon Energy (NYSE: DVN  ) , which boasts roughly 800 undrilled locations in the play across 300,000 net prospective acres; Concho Resources (NYSE: CXO  ) , which is directing a large chunk of its capital budget toward the Wolfcamp A bench and plans to drill 175 horizontal wells in the Delaware Basin by year-end; and Pioneer Natural Resources (NYSE: PXD  ) , which has 10 horizontal Wolfcamp shale wells currently producing and recently drilled a horizontal Wolfcamp well that posted the highest 24-hour peak IP rate for any interval in the Midland Basin to date.

Gulf of Mexico
In addition to its solid foothold in onshore U.S. resource plays, Anadarko is arguably the best-positioned midmajor in the Gulf of Mexico, having discovered more than 30 fields across its roughly 3 million gross acreage position in the region.

The company recently installed the Lucius truss spar, a massive 23,000-ton floating production facility in the Lucius field in the Gulf's Keathley Canyon block, and also more than doubled its working interest in the Coronado discovery in the Gulf's Shenandoah basin after taking over as operator from Chevron (NYSE: CVX  ) . Some of the company's most important projects in the region include Caesar/Tonga, Lucius, and Heidelberg, as well as the emerging Shenandoah basin development area.

Caesar/Tonga began producing oil in March 2012, with production from its first three wells expected to increase to about 45,000 BOE a day, while Lucius and Heidelberg, which are both being developed using 80,000-barrels-of-oil-per-day truss spars, are expected to achieve first oil in the second half of next year and in 2016, respectively. With such an exciting pipeline of projects in the Gulf, Anadarko plans to allocate roughly 15% of its 2013 capital budget toward the region.

A future of growth
As you can see, Anadarko's asset portfolio features both established and unconventional U.S. onshore assets that offer strong and predictable growth thanks to their low cost structure, favorable gas/liquids mix, and several years worth of drilling inventory, complemented by high-margin oil projects in the Gulf of Mexico.

In addition to these two key drivers of growth, Anadarko also has a promising pipeline of global megaprojects, including El Merk in Algeria's Sahara Desert and the Jubilee oil field offshore Ghana, as well as exploratory prospects off the coasts of several African countries, which could result in production growing at a higher rate than the 5%-7% CAGR the company expects through 2020. With such exceptional prospects for growth and a demonstrated history of deepwater success, Anadarko is definitely one stock to keep a close eye on.

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