Marathon Oil to Buy Eagle Ford Acreage, Sell Angola Stake

By OilFOXBusiness

Marathon Oil (NYSE:MRO) said Tuesday it plans to sell its interest in an offshore Angola block for about $590 million, while buying acreage at the Eagle Ford shale play in south Texas for about $97 million.

The company is selling its 10% stake in Block 32 offshore Angola to Sonangol E.P. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter and have a retroactive date of Jan. 1.

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Chief Executive Lee M. Tillman said the most recent Angola sale brings the company’s current total of completed or agreed divestitures to $3.5 billion, surpassing the $3 billion high end of Marathon’s three-year target.

Marathon also reiterated plans to buy back $1 billion of its stock under an existing share repurchase program. The buyback will be completed in two phases, with the initial phase of $500 million in repurchases almost completed.

Marathon expects the second phase to conclude after closing a previously announced $1.5 billion sale of a 10% interest in another block in offshore Angola.

After the $1 billion buyback, the company will have about $800 million remaining in its current repurchase program.

The purchase of 4,800 net acres in Eagle Ford follows other moves by Marathon to expand its footprint in shale formations like North Dakota’s Bakken. Production growth from U.S. shale oil plays has buoyed the company, which has seen profits from oil and gas operations climb in recent quarters.

In the second quarter, Marathon saw its profit rise 8.4% amid higher revenue and significantly lower marketing costs.

Marathon’s focus on shale plays followed the 2011 spinoff of its downstream and petroleum assets to form Marathon Petroleum (NYSE:MPC).

Shares fell 1.5% to $35.69 early Tuesday morning.

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