Even the most sorry tale can have something like a happy ending. That looks to be the case with BHP Billiton’s misbegotten foray into onshore US oil and gas. With the announcement Friday that the company will sell its assets in the Eagle Ford, Permian and Haynesville basins to BP for $10.5bn, the company’s US oil unit will be sticking to the deep seas. BHP is also selling BHP Billiton Petroleum (Arkansas) and BHP Billiton Petroleum (Fayetteville) to a unit of the Merit Energy Company for $300m. The price of the BP deal looks better than many had been expecting. At the time Elliott Management started pushing for a divestment of the assets in April last year, brokers valued them at an average of $6.5bn. First-round bids for the business from BP, Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell had come in at between $7bn and $9bn, people familiar with the matter told Kiel Porter and Dinesh Nair of Bloomberg News last month. By BHP’s own numbers, net operating assets in the three basins were worth about ...

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