The world’s largest independent oil trader, Vitol Group, is considering potential acquisitions in the U.S. shale patch, chief executive Russell Hardy said on the Reuters Commodity Trading Summit on Tuesday.
“Nothing has been done, it’s just an area where we feel there might be a fit from an asset point of view, where capital is leaving and some assets are going to want new owners,” Hardy said at the summit.
If Vitol were to decide to proceed with an acquisition, it hopes that it could have deals lined up by this time next year, the executive added.
Earlier this year, Vitol said it had established Vencer Energy, LLC—an upstream venture in the United States, which will be looking to buy mature, producing oil and gas assets, with a specific focus on key basins in the US Lower 48. Houston-based Vencer Energy will be led by industry veteran Don Dotson as president and chief executive officer.
“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 in July.
Vitol has some upstream assets globally, but none in the United States. The company’s current upstream assets include exploration and production (E&P) licenses from which it produces around 32,000 barrels per day equivalent of oil and gas in West Africa, Eastern Europe, and the Americas.
Vitol’s potential foray into the U.S. shale patch comes at a time when mergers and acquisitions are accelerating.
M&A activity picked up pace in recent weeks after U.S. companies shook off the initial shock from the fastest slump in oil prices in recent memory.
Analysts expect more deals in the shale patch in the near future, but they warn that buyers are very picky in selecting acquisition targets as they look to buy top quality assets.