Oilman Jim Hackett Is Back With an Oklahoma Shale Play- Update

By Lynn Cook Features Dow Jones Newswires

Jim Hackett has found his new calling in the oil patch.

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Investors this spring gave the former Anadarko Petroleum Corp. chief executive, who left the company in 2013 to get a theology degree at Harvard Divinity School, a $1 billion check, with a command to go forth and find yield.

His answer: a $3.8 billion double-play in central Oklahoma.

Mr. Hackett's Silver Run Acquisition Corp. II, backed by Riverstone Holdings LLC, announced late Wednesday that it will buy Alta Mesa Holdings LP, a private exploration and production outfit that drills in the Stack shale play due west of Oklahoma City, and Kingfisher Midstream LLC, a pipeline company that operates in the area.

The combined companies will be renamed Alta Mesa Resources Inc. and trade on the Nasdaq, with a market capitalization of $3.8 billion. Financial terms were not disclosed.

"We formed Silver Run II with the objective of acquiring low-breakeven, stacked-pay, oil-weighted assets, preferably with an integrated related midstream platform," Mr. Hackett said in a statement.

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Well economics in Oklahoma's Scoop and Stack plays rate second only to the Permian Basin of West Texas and New Mexico, according to analyst Housley Carr with RBN Energy. Like the Permian, the Stack and nearby Scoop shale plays are also constrained by a lack of infrastructure to deliver oil to the market.

Combining Alta Mesa with Kingfisher creates a kind of vertically integrated independent shale producer that will get first bite at the apple for space on pipelines.

Alta Mesa's core acreage in Northeast Kingfisher County has among the lowest breakevens in the U.S. at around $25 per barrel, the company said.

Mr. Hackett will serve as executive chairman of the new Alta Mesa once the business combination is complete, expected in the fourth quarter of this year.

Alta Mesa's current management slate -- CEO Harlan Chappelle, Chief Operating Officer Michael Ellis and Chief Financial Officer Michael McCabe -- will retain their roles in the new company.

Mr. Hackett's Silver Run was staked by Riverstone Holdings, an energy-focused investment fund that also created another blank-check shale company, now known as Centennial Resource Development Inc., when it funded Mark Papa, the former head of Wall Street darling EOG Resources Inc.

Riverstone and Alta Mesa management will control a sizable portion of the new company, with 34% of the pro forma market capitalization.

Houston-based Alta Mesa has 120,000 contiguous acres in Oklahoma, with 4,200 drilling spots it considers promising. The company is among the largest, most active operators in the Stack. Since 2012, it has drilled 205 horizontal wells in the area, and 167 of those are producing oil and gas.The company did not disclose its production.

Kingfisher owns more than 300 miles of pipeline, 50,000 barrels of oil storage capacity and gas processing plants in the area.

Maria Armental contributed to this article.

Write to Lynn Cook at lynn.cook@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 16, 2017 23:21 ET (03:21 GMT)