EnCana cited as possible takeover target

CALGARY — ExxonMobil Corp.’s (NYSE:XOM) deal to buy a U.S. natural gas player for US$29 billion has Canada’s oilpatch abuzz about whether a firm on this side of the border could be next, with EnCana Corp (TSX:ECA) as the likely candidate

CALGARY — ExxonMobil Corp.’s (NYSE:XOM) deal to buy a U.S. natural gas player for US$29 billion has Canada’s oilpatch abuzz about whether a firm on this side of the border could be next, with EnCana Corp (TSX:ECA) as the likely candidate.

After the world’s largest publicly traded company announced plans to acquire XTO Energy Inc. (NYSE:XTO) at a 25 per cent premium, investors quickly took note, driving up the share prices of top natural gas firms on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

“The thought is there could be another deal. That’s always the speculation,” Genuity Capital Markets analyst Philip Skolnick said Tuesday.

XTO, based in Fort Worth, Texas, is known for its vast U.S. onshore natural gas production and ability to drive gas out of tough-to-access reservoirs with techniques like horizontal drilling.

The XTO deal drew parallels to Calgary-based EnCana Corp. (TSX:ECA), as both are about the same size and are known for their expertise in developing unconventional natural gas.

Two weeks ago, EnCana spun off its oil business into a new company so that it could so it could focus exclusively on exploiting promising shale gas reservoirs in Canada and the United States.

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