Pioneer Natural Resources to divest assets

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Sept. 2 -- Pioneer Natural Resources Co. is pursuing divestment of properties in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico and of its nonoperated properties in southern Argentina's Tierra del Fuego.

In addition, Pioneer announced plans on Sept. 1 to reduce its exploration budget to 15-20% of total capital from 30%, reallocate capital to US and Canadian holdings, and initiate a $1 billion stock repurchase plan.

The Irving, Tex., company said high commodity prices and an active asset market prompted its decision to sell the properties.

Since entering the deepwater Gulf in 1998, Pioneer drilled 33 successful exploration and development wells and gained interests in three producing deepwater projects and 90 deepwater blocks.

Meanwhile, Pioneer also expanded and balanced its exploration portfolio in onshore North America, Alaska, and Africa and believes these opportunities are better aligned with its exploration objectives.

Pioneer executives believe they can reduce exploration risk and production volatility by selling deepwater properties.

Onshore plans
Tim Dove, Pioneer's president and chief operating officer, said, "We are significantly expanding our development drilling programs in our Spraberry and South Texas fields in the US and the Chinchaga and Horseshoe Canyon fields in Canada, and coming into this year, expanded our Raton domestic drilling program."

Dove said Pioneer also is pursuing commercialization of two discoveries in Alaska and has an active exploration program focused on prospects with nearer-term production impact planned for this winter.

"By the end of this year, we will have initiated drilling activities in several of our Piceance and Uinta fields in the Rockies and will be testing our Mannville coalbed methane potential in Canada, and we will work to continue to expand our unconventional and tight gas positions in these areas and the onshore Gulf Coast," he said.

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