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Exclusive - Fieldwood seeks partnerships as energy IPOs stall: sources

By Ron Bousso, Jessica Resnick-Ault and David French

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Gulf of Mexico oil producer Fieldwood Energy LLC has met with companies in the United States and Europe to discuss potential strategic partnerships, joint ventures or farm-in agreements, four people familiar with the talks said on Friday.

The private equity-backed company is seeking partnerships because the environment for oil-and-gas initial public offerings is challenging, the people said. Partnerships can help oil companies to raise capital without listing shares.

The conversations have been ongoing with companies that seek exposure to the Gulf of Mexico, the people said, but did not specify which companies the talks were with.

Fieldwood has both deepwater and shallow-water assets in the Gulf of Mexico, including a stake in more than 500 platforms, according to its website. With over 100,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day in output, it is the sixth-largest producer in the Gulf of Mexico, marginally ahead of Exxon Mobil Corp, according to consultancy Rystad Energy.

Fieldwood declined to comment. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity as the talks were private. Barclays facilitated the meetings, two of the people said.

Fieldwood has grown to operate more than 1,000 wells in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico since its formation in 2013 by buyout firm Riverstone Holdings. The company has acquired assets from oil firms exiting the Gulf, including Apache Corp, Noble Energy Inc and SandRidge Energy.

Fieldwood also operates two fields in Mexico's shallow water Bay of Campeche.

The company's fortunes have see-sawed in part due to an oil price rout that began in 2014 and to the massive onshore shale ramp-up in the United States, where production costs are generally lower than offshore operations.

Like a number of offshore producers in 2016 and early 2017, Fieldwood filed for bankruptcy in February 2018. It emerged from bankruptcy protection in April after restructuring its debt.

Fieldwood retained advisers to study an IPO last year in hopes to list on the stock market in 2019, seeking a valuation of more than $5 billion, according to media reports in September.

However, Fieldwood has been unable to pursue an IPO after several years of underperformance in the stock market by oil and gas producers compared with other economic sectors, the people said. In the last 12 months, energy companies in the U.S. Standard & Poor's 500 index are down 12 percent, compared with a 10 percent gain for the broader index.

(Reporting By Jessica Resnick-Ault; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)