Northern Oil and Gas Inc. is the front-runner to buy a stake in Comstock Resources’ Bakken assets in North Dakota, three sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Northern has bid about $170 million for a nonoperated working interest in the assets, one of the sources said. A marketing document seen by Reuters last month showed the value of the holding at about $200 million based on the prices of the commodity.
The sources declined to be identified as the talks are confidential.
A Comstock spokesperson disputed that the company had received a bid for about $170 million and said Comstock will not provide any additional comments as the process is confidential. Northern declined to comment.
The U.S. shale sector has seen a string of deals as companies seek to take advantage of a near 50% rise in crude prices, while looking to shore up cash under investor pressure, instead of spending on boosting output.
The properties on offer include 436 wellbores. The 427 actively producing wells in the portfolio most recently had a six-month average net production of 6,400 boe/d, the marketing document said.
The talks could still fall apart, and Comstock’s majority owner, Jerry Jones, who also owns the Dallas Cowboys football team, could turn to another bidder for the assets or pull the deal altogether if it cannot reach an agreement.
Comstock’s decision to offload its Bakken assets comes as deal activity is rising in the Haynesville Shale in Louisiana, where it produces most of its energy. Southwestern Energy recently bought Indigo Natural Resources, and Chesapeake Energy acquired Vine Energy.
Northern earlier this year had acquired some nonoperated interests in Texas’ Permian Basin for about $102 million and in Pennsylvania’s gas-heavy Marcellus basin for $126 million.
The pipeline project has faced resistance from the United States, which says the pipeline will increase Europe's reliance on Russian energy.
Underinvestment and maintenance problems have slowed down efforts by Angola and Nigeria to pump more.
Carsten Fritsch, analyst at Commerzbank, said the surge in oil prices was due to a tight market, as shown by the 12-month forward curve and the premium at which the first-month futures contract is trading to the second.