WASHINGTON, Dec 15 - Hearings planned by a U.S. lawmaker to look into Exxon Mobil Corp's (XOM.N) takeover of XTO Energy Inc (XTO.N) would pose little risk to the completion of the merger, an analyst said.
Rep. Ed Markey, chairman of the House of Representatives Energy and Environment Subcommittee said on Tuesday he intends to hold hearings early next year on the merger which would create the largest U.S. natural gas producer.
Markey will look into competition issues of the roughly $30 billion in stock merger and environmental issues resulting from producing natural gas from shale-rock formations.
But an analyst said the lawmaker had little power to slow the deal, expected to close in the second quarter next year.
From a market competition point of view, it's more the Federal Trade Commission's work to review the deal, said Tim Evans, energy analyst for Citi Futures Perspective in New York
Exxon and XTO combined to produce a little more than 4 percent of daily U.S. natural gas production through the first six months of 2009, according to the Natural Gas Supply Association.
I just don't see that as a big roadblock to the deal, Evans said. The FTC has generally gone after deals that would create much larger market shares.
The hearings may focus attention on environmental issues of producing gas from shale-rock. But those are industry-wide issues, not unique to the companies in question.
XTO is a leading developer of unconventional resources including shale oil and gas or gas trapped in sands with low permeability that require advanced drilling techniques to recover.
Exxon did not immediately respond to questions about Markey's planned hearings.
(Reporting by Timothy Gardner in Washington and Anna Driver in Houston; Editing by David Gregorio;)