By Scott Haggett
CALGARY, Alberta, Dec 10 (Reuters) - Canadian oil producer Talisman Energy Inc said on Tuesday it has agreed to sell its stake in the 590,000-barrel-per-day Ocensa oil pipeline in Colombia to an investment group led by Advent International for about $595 million as the company focuses operations while paring its debt.
Talisman, which faces pressure from shareholders to boost profits and trim its widespread global operations, said the offloading of its stake in the Colombian pipeline brings the total proceeds from its asset sales program to $2.2 billion.
The company in March said it would look to raise between $2 billion and $3 billion in asset sales over the next 18 months as it refocuses on producing oil and gas in the Americas and Southeast Asia. It is still looking for buyers for its assets in Norway’s North Sea and is mulling the sale of part of its Iraqi interests.
Low natural gas prices, aging and unreliable infrastructure at its North Sea operations and a presence in too many countries had hampered Talisman prior to a restructuring led by Chief Executive Hal Kvisle, a board member who replaced John Manzoni just over a year ago.
With Kvisle - who previously restructured pipeline company TransCanada Corp - focusing operations on fewer geographical areas and selling assets, Talisman shares have been the among the best performing among Canada’s largest oil companies, rising 13 percent over the past year.
The Ocensa sale “is definitely a favorable development for the firm and it definitely lends some credibility to (Kvisle‘s) determination to turn this ship around,” said Robert Bellinski, an analyst with Morningstar. “He said they’d be doing this and he has delivered.”
Advent is also acquiring stakes in the line held by Total SA , Ecopetrol SA and Compania Espanola de Petroleos SAU for an undisclosed price, bringing its ownership of Ocensa to 22 percent.
The 830-kilometer pipeline takes oil from Colombia’s Llanos Basin to the Atlantic coast. Talisman is retaining rights to 63,000 barrels per day on Ocensa.
The deal is expected to close by early 2014.
Talisman shares were last trading up 21 Canadian cents to C$12.62 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.