For those that may be less familiar with Societe Generale, can you tell us a little bit about what Societe Generale does and the company’s history on the North American continent?
Societe Generale is a major European Financial Services firm. It is more than 150 years old and has been present in North America for more than 50 years and present in Houston supporting the oil industry consistently through multiple cycles for more than 35 years.
What is your role at Societe Generale?
I am the Global Head of Reserve Based Finance. Reserve Based Finance is a business that deals with the debt financing of upstream oil and gas assets and upstream oil and gas companies. The business in Societe Generale is somewhat broader based than traditional US RBL loans, as our remit and product mix includes all kinds of structured debt, including upstream oil and gas project finance as well as more traditional secured corporate lending typical of the US RBL market. I have teams in 3 continents, Europe, Asia and North America and we have financed oil and gas companies and projects in some 30 countries around the globe.
Can you tell us a little bit about your business’ strategic goals and focus for the next 12 months?
As I mentioned, we have had an upstream financing presence in Houston for more than 35 years having opened our office there in 1981 and been there constantly through all the ups and downs of the oil and gas prices ever since. Like most Houston based financing teams we have, over that time, supported the US onshore oil and gas industry. The Offshore in general and the GOM in particular is an area where some banks actively financing onshore companies are more reluctant to go, however, with our experience in numerous other petroleum basins around the world, most of which are located offshore often in deep water, we are also comfortable lending to clients offshore in the US Gulf of Mexico. Given our world class Project Finance Franchise a natural development for us has been the expansion of our North American product offering to Upstream Project Finance in the GOM (something we do in many other countries around the world) in addition to of course continuing to provide traditional secured corporate US RBL loans. Development of that project finance part of the business alongside continuing to service the needs of our existing onshore focused clients are our priorities for our Reserve Based Finance business in North America.
Tell us a bit about the panel that you are hosting and why you think this is an important topic to discuss and debate?
I am hosting the GOM Panel. Up until last year, the Oil & Gas Council’s North America Assembly focused almost exclusively on the onshore nonconventional plays. This is not at all surprising of course given the importance of these plays which now dominate US domestic production.
At the same time as the onshore industry has expanded and along with the gradual switch from conventional onshore to the dominance of the nonconventional shale plays the offshore GOM has been undergoing its own quiet revolution.
We have seen the entrance of many Private Equity backed independents into the US GOM, and the expansion of some traditionally shallow shelf focused players further out into the deep water, deep rock plays. This itself has coincided with the discovery by some independents of several large, potentially world-class, discoveries; a reduction in CapEx costs post the 2015 oil price crash – which makes these economic to develop; and the divestment of assets by majors as they re-evaluate their portfolios.
In summary, the GOM is undergoing changes similar to those we have seen in other petroleum basins around the world and I anticipate a period of resurgence in its importance as the independent sector of the industry moves forward with some of these projects now that oil price has stabilized.
The GOM Panel, which I introduced for the first time last year, seeks to redress some of the balance in the forum and explore the differences in the technical challenges, the financial challenges and investment proposition compared to those of the familiar onshore non-conventional plays. I must say I am fortunate to be joined by a great line up of industry panelists from a variety of independents active in the GOM this year as I was last year, with a mix of technical, financial and business development professionals joining me and I am looking forward to a stimulating debate.
About Kevin Price
Kevin Price is the Managing Director and Global Head of Reserve Based Finance at Societe Generale and is responsible for all of the bank’s reserve-based financing activities, he joined Societe Generale in 2006. Kevin has over 30 years experience in the upstream oil and gas and finance industries, having started his career as a petroleum geologist, he spent 12 years working in the oil industry before moving into banking and specializing in reserve based lending and oil field development finance in 1997. Since 1997 he has held various positions in British and European Banks with specialist upstream financing teams with roles varying from a technical advisor to a Senior Origination Banker responsible for arranging and structuring a number of innovative international borrowing bases and oil field development financings. Kevin and his teams have financed oil and gas companies and projects in some 30 countries around the world.
Kevin Price is moderating the GULF OF MEXICO panel at the 2018 North America Assembly (Sept 13)