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Ovintiv considers options for Utah land


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Ovintiv Inc is looking to hire an investment bank to consider options for its acreage in the Uinta basin of Utah, as it looks to cash in on a boom in energy prices to cut debt, three sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Tuesday.

A full or partial sale would be among the options for Ovintiv, one of the top producers in the Uinta basin, the sources said, adding that a sale of the assets could fetch around $1 billion.

No final decision has been made about the assets and Ovintiv could still decide to retain them, the sources cautioned. They requested anonymity as the discussions are confidential.

An Ovintiv spokesperson said the company does not comment on potential or rumored acquisition or divestiture activity.

A sale, if it happens, would be the second from a major player in the oil-rich basin after privately owned EP Energy sold its position to KKR -backed Crescent Energy last week for $815 million.

EP faced months of antitrust challenges on a previous plan to sell the holdings to EnCap-backed XCL Resources, which already had some assets in the region.

Publicly traded U.S. shale producers have been looking to take advantage of crude oil nearing $100 per barrel by selling off operations no longer key to their development plans and using the cash to clean up balance sheets or reward investors.

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Ovintiv, which in the past operated as EnCana and was once Canada’s biggest company, moved to the United States in January 2020 in the hopes of attracting more investors after years of challenges in the Canadian energy sector.

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However, the onset of the coronavirus pandemic just months after its change in headquarters saw the company’s stock plummet along with other U.S. oil and gas producers. A year later, Ovintiv faced more pressure from an activist investor calling for changes in its budget and non-core asset sales.

Ovintiv settled with the activist fund Kimmeridge in March 2021, and with oil prices making a strong recovery, it sold its assets in the Eagle Ford and Duvernay shale plays.

Ovintiv used the money raised from those sales to cut its debt pile and set a target to bring its $4.8 billion net debt to under $3 billion by the end of 2022.

The company, which classifies its holdings in the Uinta basin as non-core, has scaled back spending on them in recent years and diverted budget to more profitable regions in the Anadarko and Permian basins.

Ovintiv’s assets spanned around 207,000 net acres in central Utah and had production of around 13,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day as of its 2020 annual report.

Ovintiv is scheduled to post its fourth-quarter results on Thursday.



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