NEW YORK (CNNMoney)
Here’s an intriguing switch in the energy market: U.S. oil firms have been selling off their assets overseas and investing the money in America’s domestic fields.
Last year ConocoPhillips (COP, Fortune 500) announced plans to sell its stake in Kazakhstan’s Kashagan oil field — the largest energy project in the world — for $5 billion. It was just one of at least six major foreign sales last year for Conoco, which totaled nearly $11 billion, according to industry data provider PLS.
Much of that money is being redirected to investments Conoco has in Texas’ Eagle Ford Shale and North Dakota’s Bakken Shale, according to PLS Managing Director Brian Lidsky.
A Conoco spokesman confirmed the sales, and said the money was being used for general corporate purposes and to “capture new opportunities for the future.”
American oil firm Hess (HES, Fortune 500) did something similar, selling over $4 billion of assets in the U.K., Azerbaijan and Russia. A company spokesman said that money went to a number of different initiatives, including paying down debt and building up the company’s balance sheet. The spokesman said Hess invested $3.1 billion in North Dakota in 2012, where the company boosted its oil production by 55%.
U.S. oil companies Devon (DVN, Fortune 500), Marathon (MARA), Anadarko(APC, Fortune 500), Murphy (MUR, Fortune 500) and Noble Energy (NBL) have all sold overseas assets in the last couple of years. In addition to Texas and North Dakota, PLS said the money has gone, at least in part, to Colorado’s Niobrara and Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale.