The investment is expected to scale up to $3.50 billion over 10 years, according to the company
Making a breakthrough in the US, Reliance Industries today said that it will invest $1.70 billion in a joint venture with Atlas Energy Inc to produce gas from shale, sedimentary rocks, in the Marcellus region.
The investment would be scaled up to $3.5 billion over the next 10 years, RIL CFO Alok Agarwal said.
Reliance will take 40% stake in the 300,000-acre Marcellus shale gas project, which spans parts of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and New York and could hold enough natural gas to satisfy US demand for a decade.
Nasdaq-listed Atlas will hold the remaining 60% and also the operatorship. RIL had earlier unsuccessfully bid for acquiring controlling stake in bankrupt chemical maker LyondellBassel.
It bid $14.5 billion for Lyondell but the offer was vetoed by creditors who filed a rival revival plan.
Flush with revenues from its eastern offshore KG-D6 gas field back home, the Mukesh Ambani-run firm has been on the lookout for acquisitions in the United States. Separately, its twin refineries at Jamnagar in Gujarat are looking at directly selling fuel into the US.
"Reliance Marcellus LLC (a subsidiary of RIL) has executed definitive agreements to enter into a joint venture with US based Atlas Energy Inc, under which Reliance will acquire a 40 per cent interest in Atlas’ core Marcellus Shale acreage position,” the company said in a statement.
The Indian firm will pay $339 million in cash to close the deal and foot Atlas’ drilling cost of up to $1.36 billion.
“The (300,000 acres) acreage will support the drilling of over 3,000 wells with a net resource potential of about 13.3 trillion cubic feet gas equivalent,” the RIL statement said, adding that the deal is expected to be closed by the month end.
Shale gas is natural gas stored in organic-rich sedimentary rocks. It is considered an unconventional source as the gas may be attached to or “adsorbed” onto organic matter. The gas is contained in difficult-to-produce reservoirs that require special completion, stimulation and/or production techniques to achieve economic production.
In addition to funding its own 40% of drilling obligations, Reliance has agreed to fund 75% of Atlas' respective portion of drilling and completion costs until the $1.36 billion drilling carry is fully utilised, Atlas said in a separate statement.
“Under the framework of the joint venture, Atlas will continue acquiring leasehold in the Marcellus region and Reliance will have the option to acquire 40% share in all new acreages,” Reliance said. “Reliance also obtains the right of first offer with respect to potential future sales by Atlas of around 280,000 additional Appalachian acres currently controlled by Atlas (not included in the present joint venture).”
Meanwhile, Reliance Industries has also informed oil regulator DGH that four smaller gas finds surrounding the D-1 and D-3 fields in the Krishna-Godavari basin can be commercially exploited. RIL has informed the oil regulator Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) that four smaller gas finds, surrounding the D-1 and D-3 fields, which are currently producing around 62 mmscmd of gas, can be commercially exploited, sources said.