EXCLUSIVE California oil producer Berry Corp explores sale -sources

Oct 6 (Reuters) - Berry Corporation (BRY.O) is exploring strategic options that could result in a sale of the California-focused oil producer, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

The company is considering a wide range of options as it undertakes the strategic review with the help of a financial adviser, said the sources, who cautioned that a final decision on pursuing any specific course has not been made.

Berry's share price initially jumped 15% after the Reuters story. By mid-afternoon trading it was 9.4% higher, giving the company a market value of about $730 million. It also holds long-term debt worth $395 million as of June 30.

The sources requested anonymity as these discussions are confidential.

Berry could attract interest from suitors backed by private equity funds or international energy companies, one of the sources said.

Berry did not respond to requests for comment.

Originally formed in 1909 during the golden days of oil drilling in California, Berry in its current form was created from the bankruptcy of LINN Energy in 2017 and became a standalone public company the following year.

Its shares have gained 10% from the start of the year, according to Refinitiv Eikon, lagging other oil and gas stocks which have jumped on the back of elevated commodity prices. By comparison, the S&P 500 energy sector (.SPNY) has climbed 49% this year.

Around 80% of Berry's production came from California in the second quarter, with the remainder from Utah's Uinta basin. The company also has a well servicing business.

Despite its rich oil history, California has become increasingly difficult for producers to operate in, with the state vowing to phase out oil extraction entirely by 2045.

Such conditions are forcing oil and gas companies to reassess their future plans in the state. Shell PLC (SHEL.L) and Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) agreed last month to sell their California joint venture to investment firm IKAV for $4 billion.

Reporting by Shariq Khan in Bengaluru and David French in New York Editing by Marguerita Choy and Susan Fenton

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