American Energy Companies Continue to Shed Canadian Assets

Devon Energy Corp. (NYSE:DVN) and Williams Companies Inc. (NYSE:WMB) are selling Canadian assets.

| More on:

Over the past several years there has been a notable trend in the North American energy sector: American energy companies are jettisoning their Canadian assets.

That trend continued to play out this past week when U.S.-based oil and gas producer Devon Energy Corp. (NYSE:DVN) sealed a deal for its stake in an oil pipeline.

Following that transaction was a report that the auction of American energy infrastructure giant Williams Companies Inc.’s (NYSE:WMB) Canadian unit attracted at least seven bidders. This deal news suggests that U.S. energy companies continue to see better opportunities by cashing in their Canadian assets, so they can focus on growing in their home country.

Access to additional capital granted

Devon Energy announced the sale of its 50% stake in the Access Pipeline in the Canadian oil sands region to Canada Pension Plan Investment Board–backed Wolf Midstream. The initial sale price was $1.4 billion, though it includes the potential for Devon to earn an additional $150 million after it sanctions the development of a new project on its Pike oil sands lease. That is noteworthy in and of itself because it suggests that Devon Energy has plans to grow its presence in the oil sands.

That said, this is not the first time the company has jettisoned assets in Canada. In 2014 the company sold its conventional assets in the country to Canadian Natural Resources for $3.125 billion. That transaction represented the entirety of its conventional business in Canada. However, the company did retain its shale gas assets in the Horn River, its heavy oil assets at Lloydminster, and its oil sands assets in Alberta.

While Devon Energy retained assets that had the most upside, it cashed in on those that did not to reinvest the proceeds into its U.S. shale business. For example, the proceeds from the sale to Canadian Natural Resources were used to pay for its Eagle Ford shale acquisition, while the sale of its stake in the Access Pipeline will go towards accelerating the development of its STACK and Delaware Basin resource plays.

Cashing out

Meanwhile, Williams Companies is reportedly well advanced in the sale process for its Canadian assets. The company owns a unique slate of assets, including the only fractionator in Canada capable of processing offgas liquids found in the oil sands. To date, the company has invested US$2 billion in building its Canadian assets, and it has another US$2.8 billion in future investment opportunities.

That said, according to reports, the company’s Canadian assets are only expected to sell for between US$1 billion and US$2 billion. This is due in large part to the impact of low oil prices, which cut into the margins of Williams Companies’s Canadian operations by $89 million last year.

Aside from the impact of low oil prices, the other reason Williams Companies is looking to sell its Canadian assets is that it needs the cash to fund growth in the states. Earlier this year the company and its MLP had to cut US$1 billion out of the capex budget due to lack of resources; it also needs to sell at least US$1 billion of assets to bridge the gap between the budget and capital resources. It is a gap the company appears poised to fund via the sale of its Canadian assets.

Investor takeaway

American energy companies continue to return home slowly. For the most part, it is not that they don’t see growth potential in Canada, but that they need the money to fund the abundant opportunities they have in their own back yard. It is a trend that will likely continue because all but the biggest U.S. oil companies appear content to operate within their own borders.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium service or advisor. We’re Motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer, so we sometimes publish articles that may not be in line with recommendations, rankings or other content.

Fool contributor Matt DiLallo has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Devon Energy.

More on Energy Stocks

Dividend Stocks

2 of the Best Stocks to Buy for Fast-Growing Passive Income 

In this economy, you need a passive income that grows fast enough to beat inflation in any situation. These two…

Read more »

TFSA and coins
Energy Stocks

Turn a TFSA Investment Into $274K by 2033

The next decade should be strong for this clean energy stock, which is why I would choose it if investing…

Read more »

Piggy bank next to a financial report
Energy Stocks

Here’s How Much You’d Actually Have to Invest to Get Hundreds in Monthly Dividend Income

Can you earn several hundred dollars of passive income each month from Enbridge stock?

Read more »

tsx today
Energy Stocks

TSX Today: What to Watch for in Stocks on Tuesday, December 6

TSX investors may want to remain cautious ahead of the Bank of Canada’s interest rate decision due on Wednesday.

Read more »

oil and gas pipeline
Energy Stocks

Should You Be Buying Liquefied Natural Gas Stocks Right Now?

Here's why Tourmaline Oil (TSX:TOU) is one of the top natural gas stocks long-term investors should consider buying in this…

Read more »

Couple relaxing on a beach in front of a sunset
Energy Stocks

3 CPP Changes Coming in 2023 – What to Invest Your Accounts In

CPP premiums are increasing next year. You can lower your overall tax burden by holding stocks like Enbridge Inc (TSX:ENB)(NYin…

Read more »

energy industry
Energy Stocks

Suncor Stock Fell 7.4% in November: Is it a Buy Today?

Suncor (TSX:SU) is undervalued, but not appealing enough.

Read more »

tsx today
Energy Stocks

TSX Today: Stocks to Watch on Monday, December 5

Canadian stocks may remain volatile ahead of the Bank of Canada’s upcoming interest rate decision due on Wednesday.

Read more »