Major oil companies are selling more than $300 billion of assets, according to Carlyle International Energy Partners, part of the world’s second-largest manager of investment alternatives to stocks and bonds.
Private-equity companies, commodity traders and sovereign-wealth funds will probably buy more energy infrastructure from oil companies shifting to expensive exploration and production projects, Managing Director Marcel van Poecke said. Carlyle sees opportunities to buy assets outside of North America, he said.
“It is a buyer’s market,” Van Poecke said. “I’ve never seen a market where there are so many good assets for sale.”
Varo Energy, Carlyle’s venture with commodity trader Vitol Group that owns Switzerland’s Cressier refinery, in December said it would buy a stake in a plant in southern Germany.
The joint venture plans to become a “new player” in oil refining and storage in northwest Europe focusing on output of the middle-distillate fuels such as diesel and heating oil that the continent now imports to meet its needs, Van Poecke said at the FT Commodities Global Summit in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Carlyle could join with commodity traders other than Vitol to target infrastructure asset markets outside of Europe, he said in a separate interview. “I see opportunities in Africa. I see opportunities in Southeast Asia,” Van Poecke said. The Carlyle fund won’t target assets in North America, he said.
Commodity traders are investing in infrastructure to expand their trading opportunities and secure supplies. Vitol offered $2.6 billion to buy Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s refining and fuel station assets in Australia in February.
Van Poecke was a founder of Petroplus Holdings AG, leaving it in 2006. Petroplus went into bankruptcy in 2012, and its five facilities were sold, converted or closed.
Sovereign wealth funds are also interested in teaming with commodity traders to fund purchases of energy assets, Jan-Maarten Mulder, head of commodities at ABN Amro Group NV, told the conference.
“You will see more of those types of transactions, absolutely,” Mulder said.