By David French and Anirban Sen
(Reuters) -Exxon Mobil is in advanced talks to acquire Pioneer Natural Resources in a deal that could value the Permian shale basin producer at about $60 billion, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.
The acquisition would expand Exxon’s footprint in one of the most lucrative areas of the U.S. oil patch. Pioneer, with a market capitalization of about $50 billion, is the third-largest producer of oil in the Permian basin after Chevron Corp and ConocoPhillips.
If the negotiations conclude successfully, an agreement could be reached in the coming days, the three sources said, asking not to be identified because the matter is confidential.
Spokespeople for Exxon and Pioneer declined to comment. The Wall Street Journal first reported on Thursday that a deal is imminent.
Pioneer was long seen as an attractive target for Exxon as it has a significant presence in some of the most productive areas of the Permian shale basin.
Exxon, which is valued at about $436 billion, last year earned a record $55.7 billion on sky high oil and gas prices and ended the year with $29.6 billion in cash and equivalents.
Some of those record profits have tapered off this year as commodity prices, which surged after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, have fallen over concerns about future demand at a time when high inflation has weighed on consumer spending.
On Wednesday, Exxon said big increases in oil, gas and fuel prices would deliver a third-quarter operating profit between $8.3 billion and $11.4 billion, below the year ago’s record earnings but up from its second quarter.
A deal for Pioneer would be Exxon’s largest deal since its $81-billion merger with Mobil in 1999.
(Reporting by David French and Anirban Sen in New York; Editing by Greg Roumeliotis and Lincoln Feast)