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Vitol creates upstream unit to target mature US shale oil, gas assets


Vencer Energy to seek producing shale assets

Houston-based company to be led by Don Dotson

Vitol currently produces around 32,000 boe/d

London — Vitol, the world's largest independent oil trader, has created a US subsidiary to acquire mature, producing oil and gas assets in the US' onshore shale basins, the company said July 20.

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Houston-based Vencer Energy will be led by Don Dotson, the former CEO of Sable Bay Energy and COO of Plantation Petroleum, Vitol said.

"I am looking forward to leveraging my decades of industry experience operating in multiple basins to build a large-scale oil and gas enterprise,” Dotson said in a statement.

Vitol holds stakes in a number of producing upstream assets in West Africa, Eastern Europe, and the Americas which currently produce around 32,000 b/d of oil equivalent.

The move into shale basins in the US Lower 48 states would mark Vitol's first US upstream positions. One of the company's major offshore assets is the Sankofa OCTP project in Ghana which produces a gross rate of 45,000 b/d of crude and around 200 MMcf/d into the domestic gas infrastructure.

Some of its other key upstream assets are in Mexico, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine.

"Vitol has more than 20 years of experience developing and operating E&P assets globally," Head of Vitol Americas Ben Marshall said in the statement.

"Vitol's strong balance sheet and global operating experience, coupled with Don's extensive US-focused technical and operating experience is a powerful combination of capabilities for success.”

No further details of the US upstream plans were given.

Vitol has been a relative newcomer to the upstream sector and in 2018 sought to grow its production footprint as part of a $1.4-million buyout of Petrobras' Nigerian oil assets.

Last year, however, Vitol pulled out of the venture with Africa Oil Corp. and Delonex Energy for Petrobras' minority interests in Nigeria's deepwater blocks OML 127 and OML 130, which include the major deepwater fields of Agbami, Akpo and Egina fields.