Big Deals: Oil and Gas, Mining, Energy Deals Exceed Previous Years

By Jennifer Verzuh

A few years ago, the contents of Law Week Colorado’s 2022 Big Deals Q1 list would be surprising to many in the industry given the inclusion of multiple oil and gas transactions valued at hundreds of millions of dollars.

“I would say for several years, even leading up to the pandemic … and into the pandemic, we found that there was very little oil and gas activity. There weren’t a lot of mergers and acquisitions, much [slower] deal flow,” Davis Graham and Stubbs LLP partner Sam Niebrugge said.

However, over the last year that trend has reversed, according to Niebrugge.

“The pace has picked up significantly, and I perceive it’s a function of overall consolidation within the industry,” he said. “And as companies have merged over the course of the last three years, they evaluate their inventory and they’re determining what parts of their inventory they’re able to sell to increase capital to put forth towards their other assets.”

“I think it’s important that people know that deals within the broader energy space continue to get done even as capital has been constrained within the broader energy space,” Niebrugge added.

In his role as a corporate attorney that primarily focuses on energy transactions at Davis Graham & Stubbs, Niebrugge possesses this knowledge firsthand. This quarter’s big deals list features nine major oil and gas and mining transactions, and DGS has been involved in eight of these deals.

This is not an anomaly for the organization, according to Niebrugge.

“Our law firm is at the center of these energy deals that are happening,” he said. “It’s a testament to our expertise in this area and what we do as a firm.

Among the clients they’ve worked with this year, DGS represented Whiting Petroleum Corporation, an independent oil and gas company, in their expansion in the Williston Basin’s Sanish Field. The $240 million acquisition acts as “an example of companies continuing to acquire inventory for long-term exploration and productions,” Niebrugge, who worked directly on this transaction, said.

In a press release from Whiting, President and CEO Lynn Peterson expressed his excitement about the transaction and its prospects for the company.

“By increasing our working interest, we are immediately recognizing substantial cash flow that is accretive for shareholders,” he said. “We know and understand the Sanish field extremely well and are very comfortable with the rate of return we are achieving.”

Niebrugge anticipates that in the next quarter his firm will see more transactions and acquisitions of this scale. While they don’t have a particular goal or number in mind for their work in this industry, he said that they strive to be consistent in their work for clients they represent across all areas.

But Davis Graham & Stubbs isn’t the only firm working in the energy sector represented on our big deals list for the quarter. In January, Dorsey & Whitney LLP advised Corvus Gold Inc., a publicly held mineral exploration and development company, in the sale of 80.5% of its common shares to AngloGold Ashanti Limited, a publicly held gold mining company based in South Africa for approximately $370 million.

Dorsey partner Jason Brenkert and associate Van Vu worked on the deal out of the firm’s Denver office.

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