By Sabrina Valle

(Reuters) -Exxon Mobil Corp on Thursday said it signed a deal to sell North Texas natural gas properties to producer BKV Corp for $750 million, as part of a wider move to shed unwanted assets.

Exxon, the top U.S. oil producer, set a goal three years ago to sell by last December $15 billion in assets to pay down debt and focus on lower cost oil production. But it has achieved about half its goal as sales stalled during the pandemic.

This year’s rebound in oil and gas prices has brought renewed interest in its properties, Senior Vice President Neil Chapman told analysts in March.

North Texas assets sales include additional payments based on future gas prices, allowing the company to profit from rising fuel costs. The deal is expected to close by June 30.

“We are focused on delivering the most competitive returns to our shareholders by developing opportunities with the lowest cost of supply,” said Liam Mallon, president of Exxon Mobil Upstream Company.

Denver-based BKV is majority owned by Thai energy firm Banpu PCL and is the largest natural gas producer in the Barnett Shale, an area of north Texas where the first shale wells were successfully drilled.

Exxon is offering assets in Asia, Africa and Europe as it as focuses on Guyana, offshore Brazil and the Permian Basin of West Texas and New Mexico. It is marketing assets in Iraq, Chad, Nigeria, Canada, and in Arkansas and Ohio.

The company, which suffered a historic $22.4 billion loss in 2020, has used this year’s skyhigh oil prices to pay down debt and increase payouts to shareholders.

Exxon said it had removed the Barnett Shale assets operated by its subsidiaries XTO Energy Inc and Barnett Gathering LLC from its development plan in 2020.

Last year, it took in $2.6 billion from asset sales, up from $1 billion in 2020.

(Reporting by Ruhi Soni in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel, Bernard Orr)