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Goodrich Petroleum exploring sale of Texas shale assets

Operations At An Orion Drilling Co. Oil PlatformOperations At An Orion Drilling Co. Oil Platform

Shale oil producer Goodrich Petroleum is exploring a sale of the company’s South Texas assets, the latest sign that U.S. oil-and-gas producers are trimming their sails as oil prices dip.

Goodrich Petroleum (GDP) said its board has authorized management to explore a possible sale of “all or a portion” of the company’s Eagle Ford shale assets in the first half of next year, a move that the company said would give it more room to expand its development activities elsewhere.

Goodrich also trimmed its capital expenditure budget–it sees spending of $150 million to $200 million next year, far less than the range of $325 million to $375 million projected for 2014.

Energy companies’ investment budgets are under pressure across the sector. ConocoPhillips (COP) at the beginning of this week warned it intended to spend 20% less in 2015 than it will this year.

Oil prices are at the lowest point since the Global Recession in 2009, and Bank of America analysts forecast it could drop to $50 next year before recovering. While that’s good news for consumers, weaker prices eat into the profits that energy companies generate from the wells they’ve tapped. Oil prices were further dented when a cartel that produces one third of the world’s output, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, last month failed to agree on measures to trim output. Some saw that move as an effort by Saudi Arabia to squeeze the booming U.S. shale industry.

The Eagle Ford assets that Goodrich Petroleum is looking to sell had $109.2 million in capital expenditures in 2013, eating up 43% of the company’s spending budget that year. Eagle Ford had 73 producing wells at the end of 2013 with about 45,000 in gross lease acres. Average production costs have been higher at Eagle Ford than Goodrich’s other plays.