In the long-running competition for profits in the oil and gas industry, Marathon Oil is keeping up a steady pace. The company explores for and produces oil and gas primarily in Angola, Canada, Equatorial Guinea, Libya, Norway, Indonesia, the UK, and the US. In 2010 it reported proved reserves of 1.6 billion barrels of oil equivalent including 572 million barrels of synthetic oil from oil sands. Formerly a holding company with both upstream and downstream operations, in 2011 the company spun off its downstream unit Marathon Petroleum (which accounted for the bulk of its revenues) and became a pure-play exploration and production company.
Its Houston operations retained the exploration, oil-sands mining, and natural gas businesses, while the Findlay, Ohio, operations (Marathon Petroleum) kept the marketing, refining, pipeline, and transportation functions.
In anticipation of separating into two companies, in 2011 Marathon Oil boosted its exploration and production holdings in its core Eagle Ford shale play in South Texas to 285,000 net acres. It also acquired 141,000 acres in the play from KKR and Hilcorp Energy for about $3.5 billion.
In a move to focus on its core businesses and pay down debt the company has sold $2 billion to $4 billion in noncore assets. In 2009 Marathon Oil sold its 50% stake in truck stop chain Pilot Travel Centers LLC to the joint venture's partner, Pilot Corp., for $700 million. It also sold its Irish exploration and production subsidiary for $180 million. In 2010 the company sold 20% of its 30% stake in its Angola-based oil and gas operations to CNOOC and Sinopec in order to raise about $1.3 billion.
In 2010 a recovering global economy, higher oil prices, and stronger demand lifted Marathon Oil's overall revenues (especially in the refining and marketing and exploration and production segments) and net income.
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