PLS reports that upstream deal markets slowed significantly during the period from October 17 to November 16 both in the US and internationally as oil prices fell to a four-year low in the mid-$70s. In the US, companies announced 33 upstream deals of which 20 had disclosed values totaling $2.3 billion, vs. $16.5 billion during the previous month. Similarly, international deals totaled 47, with 23 having a cumulative disclosed value of $2.0 billion-down from $11.3 billion the previous month.
Accounting for nearly half of the disclosed US deal value during the period was Aubrey McClendon’s American Energy Partners. Continuing an aggressive buying spree that now exceeds $6.7 billion since early 2013, AEP announced a $726 million Wolfcamp bolt-on acquisition for its Midland Basin affiliate American Energy-Permian Basin and then completed purchases totaling $251 million in Oklahoma’s SCOOP and STACK plays via its American Energy Non-Op affiliate. AEP’s key backers include private equity firms The Energy & Minerals Group and First Reserve, and these deals highlight PE’s growing role in the deal markets. While private equity continues to be among the most reliable buyers of conventional properties, these deals show an increasing interest in higher-capital shale plays as well, as do recent acquisitions involving Blackstone in the Haynesville shale and First Reserve in the Marcellus.