Plains Exploration & Production

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Plains Exploration & Production Company
IndustryPetroleum industry
FateAcquired by Freeport-McMoRan
Founded2002; 18 years ago (2002)
DefunctMay 31, 2013; 6 years ago (May 31, 2013)
HeadquartersHouston, Texas
Key people
James C. Flores, Chairman, President & CEO
Winston M. Talbert, CFO[1]
Natural gas
RevenueIncrease $2.565 billion (2012)[1]
Increase $1.949 billion (2012)[1]
Increase $0.306 billion (2012)[1]
Total assetsIncrease $17.298 billion (2012)[1]
Total equityIncrease $3.516 billion (2012)[1]
Number of employees
906 (2013)[1]
Plains operations on the Bremer Lease, Midway-Sunset Oil Field, Kern County, California

Plains Exploration & Production was a petroleum and natural gas exploration company based in Houston, Texas. In May 2013, it was acquired by Freeport-McMoRan.[2]


In 2002, the company was separated from Plains Resources Inc. via a corporate spin-off.[3]

In 2003, the company acquired 3TEC for $313 million.[4] In 2004, it and acquired Nuevo Energy for $945 million. These acquisitions gave the company petroleum-producing assets in the Southwestern United States and California.[5]

In 2007, the company acquired Pogo Producing for $3.6 billion in cash and stock.[6][7]

In 2008, the company formed a joint venture with Chesapeake Energy in the Haynesville Shale.[8][9] To fund the venture, the company sold assets in the Permian Basin and the Piceance Basin to Occidental Petroleum for $1.3 billion.[10][11]

In 2011, the company sold natural gas assets for $785 million, including a $600 million sale of assets in the Granite Wash to Linn Energy.[12][13]

In 2012, the company acquired assets in the Gulf of Mexico from BP and Royal Dutch Shell.[14]


The company's operations were all in Wyoming, California, Texas, Louisiana, Wyoming, and offshore of California and in the Gulf of Mexico. The company had proved reserves of 440.4 million barrels of oil equivalent (2.694×109 GJ), of which 82% was petroleum. It also had a prospect offshore of Vietnam.[1]

In California, it was a principal operator on fields including Cymric Oil Field and the South Belridge Oil Field in Kern County and Inglewood Oil Field in Los Angeles County.

Approximately 39% of production was heavy crude oil, almost all of which was sold to Phillips 66.[1] Valero Energy was also a major customer of the company, accounting for 17% of revenues in 2012.[1]

Attempts to drill in the Tranquillon Ridge in Santa Barbara County[edit]

A solitary Plains pumpjack on the Lompoc Oil Field, California. Under the terms of the Tranquillon Ridge deal, this field would have been decommissioned and would have become protected open space.

The company attempted to negotiate a complex compromise deal in Santa Barbara County with environmental groups and state regulators to allow for drilling into the undeveloped Tranquillon Ridge, off the western coast of the county, in return for the company decommissioning and doing environmental restoration on the old and mostly played-out Lompoc Oil Field, which consists of approximately 3,700 acres (15 km2) of ecologically-sensitive habitat adjacent to the Burton Mesa Ecological Preserve. As part of the deal, the company would have drilled into Tranquillon Ridge only from the existing Platform Irene and would have retired the platform entirely in 2022. The project would have given the state of California $2 billion and Santa Barbara County about $350 million in tax revenues during that time. The County Board of Supervisors voted to approve the project and sent it on to the State Lands Commission, which rejected it by a 2 to 1 vote on January 29, 2009, citing the unenforceability of the sunset clause.[15] In May 2009, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger revived the project by including it in a revised budget proposal.[16] However, the proposal did not pass.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Plains Exploration & Production Company 2012 Form 10-K Annual Report". U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
  2. ^ "Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. Completes Acquisition of Plains Exploration & Production Company" (Press release). Business Wire. May 31, 2013.
  3. ^ "Plains Resources board approves spinoff". American City Business Journals. December 3, 2002.
  4. ^ "Plains E&P completes acquisition of 3TEC Energy Corp". Oil & Gas Journal. June 4, 2003.
  5. ^ "Plains Exploration to acquire Nuevo Energy". Oil & Gas Journal. February 23, 2004.
  6. ^ "Plains Exploration Acquires Pogo for $3.6 Billion". Associated Press. CNBC. July 17, 2007.
  7. ^ "Plains Exploration Agrees to Acquire Pogo". The Wall Street Journal. July 18, 2007.(subscription required)
  8. ^ "Chesapeake and PXP Announce Haynesville Shale Joint Venture" (Press release). Business Wire. July 1, 2008.
  9. ^ James, Steve (July 1, 2008). "Chesapeake, Plains in Haynesville Shale joint venture". Reuters.
  10. ^ Peer, Melinda (September 25, 2008). "Plains Passes Assets To Occidental". Reuters.
  11. ^ "Plains Exploration sells to Occidental". United Press International. December 17, 2007.
  12. ^ "Plains Exploration sells gas assets for $785 mln". Reuters. November 4, 2011.
  13. ^ Stynes, Tess (November 7, 2011). "Plains Exploration Reaches Deal to Sell Assets to Linn". The Wall Street Journal.(subscription required)
  14. ^ Pulsinelli, Olivia (November 30, 2012). "Plains Exploration & Production completes acquisitions of BP, Shell assets". American City Business Journals.
  15. ^ Stewart, Ethan (January 29, 2009). "PXP Deal Defeated". Santa Barbara Independent.
  16. ^ Roberts, Jerry (May 14, 2009). "Tranquillon Ridge Project Returns". Santa Barbara Independent.