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ExxonMobil has launched the sale of its shale gas properties in the US in a bid to reduce its debt.

Last year, the American energy giant’s debt doubled to almost $70bn since 2018. However, it reduced the debt by more than $7bn this year, bringing its total debt to $60.6bn, reported Reuters.

The divestment also forms part of the company’s strategy to accelerate its long-stalled programme launched three years ago to raise $15bn by divesting unwanted assets by December 2021.

Exxon spokeswoman Julie King was reported by the news agency as saying that ExxonMobil’s subsidiary XTO Energy plans to sell almost 844 operated and 4,104 non-operated wells in the Fayetteville Shale in Arkansas, the US.

Covering an area of 416,000 net acres, the Arkansas properties include some of the North American natural gas resources that Exxon cut from its development plan in 2020.

Since 2016, the assets’ output dropped by more than half to about 160 million cubic feet per day in 2020, reported Reuters citing Exxon marketing materials.

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By GlobalData

ExxonMobil’s gas assets considered for sale are among the gas projects that have reduced market value and declining production capacity.

Exxon expects to receive bids for the sale of the gas assets by 16 September, with plans to close potential sale transactions by the end of this year.

King added: “We are providing information to third parties that may have an interest in the assets.”

US-based Merit Energy is assessing the properties put up for sale by ExxonMobil, Reuters’ report added.

The sale is expected to help the US oil firm to focus on newer venture projects in Permian Basin, Texas in the US, offshore Brazil, and Guyana.

Recently, ExxonMobil has reported earnings of $4.7bn for Q2 2021 compared with a $1.1bn loss a year ago.