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Experienced Oil & Gas Lawyers - NATIONAL REACH, Local Commitment

The two biggest oil and gas companies working in Colorado's booming Denver-Julesburg Basin have swapped ownership on about 100,000 acres of land where the two run oil and gas wells in an effort by each company to consolidate and concentrate its operations. Noble Energy Inc. and Anadarko Petroleum Corp. announced Monday that each company contributed about 50,000 acres to the exchange. The swap concentrates Noble's position in the northeastern side of the Wattenberg Field, an area north of Denver, while Anadarko's new position is concentrated on the southwest side of the field, according to a map released by the companies and available here. The agreement calls for the swap to be effective retroactively as of Jan. 1, 2013, according to Houston-based Noble. Noble said it received $105 million in cash as reimbursement for money the company spent drilling wells in the acreage that now belongs to Anadarko.

Noble's production from the area also will drop by the equivalent of about 8,000 barrels of oil as those wells now belong to Anadarko, which will see its production improve by about 8,000 barrels of oil per day.

Both companies each employ about 1,000 people in Colorado. But Noble said it expected the barrels of oil it lost in the exchange to be "quickly offset" by operational efficiencies and cost savings associated with the swap. Noble said it expects its 2014 production from the basin will jump by at least 20 percent over its 2013 production. "As we move forward with our integrated development plans within the DJ Basin, we expect to realize significant efficiency improvements including centralized field facilities, streamlined operations and reduced land work," said David L. Stover, Noble's president and COO.

"The large contiguous acreage blocks will provide the opportunity to optimize drilling activities and add more extended-reach lateral wells to the program." Stover said.

Said Chuck Meloy, Anadarko's executive vice president of the company's exploration and production efforts onshore in the United States: "This Wattenberg trade unlocks significant additional value for both Anadarko and Noble Energy by consolidating operated acreage positions, which enables more efficient development planning and infrastructure utilization. "The trade is expected to achieve greater operating efficiencies, reduce costs and local impacts, and further improve safety performance. This exchange also demonstrates Anadarko's active portfolio management and commitment to accelerating cash generation, as we anticipate increasing activity on our core Wattenberg acreage, where we are generating rates of return that exceed 100 percent," Meloy said. Anadarko said it also retained its land grant mineral rights on about 21,000 acres of the 50,000 acres Anadarko swapped with Noble – meaning Anadarko will still benefit financially from Noble's operations on those 21,000 acres. The land grant mineral rights originally were an incentive offered to investors looking at building railways through the West.

The Pacific Railway Act of 1862 created the Union Pacific Railroad Co. and granted the company mineral rights in a checkerboard pattern that's 700 miles long and 40 miles wide along the corridor the railroad passed through in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. Anadarko owns about 7.5 million acres of those land grant rights due to its 2000 merger with Union Pacific Resources.

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