UPDATE 3-Freeport to buy Apache's Gulf of Mexico assets after shale sale
(Updates share price, adds Apache conference call commentary)
By Swetha Gopinath
May 8 (Reuters) - Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc said on Thursday it would buy Apache Corp's deepwater oil and gas projects in the Gulf of Mexico for $1.4 billion, a day after announcing it would shed $3.1 billion in Eagle Ford shale assets in Texas.
Mining giant Freeport said the Eagle Ford asset sale will fund the purchase of interests in two development projects and 11 deepwater exploration blocks in the Gulf of Mexico.
Meanwhile, Apache, known for its experience using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to unlock oil and gas from rock, has been selling assets overseas and in the Gulf to focus on lucrative shale fields in North America.
A 21 percent rise in liquids production from onshore fields helped Apache post a better-than-expected first-quarter profit on Thursday.
Apache, like Occidental Petroleum Corp and Hess Corp , has been boosting production in North American shale where growth is seen as more predictable.
Freeport, a major copper producer, said on Wednesday it was selling some Eagle Ford assets to Encana Corp, Canada's top natural gas company, as part of a plan to raise as much as $4 billion.
Freeport is looking to reduce its $20.9 debt load, which ballooned after it surprised the market in late 2012 with a $9 billion purchase of both Plains Exploration & Production Co and McMoRan Exploration Co. Continued...