Statoil Buys Marcellus Shale Gas Acreage, Becomes Operator

Statoil Buys Marcellus Shale Gas Acreage, Becomes Operator

OSLO - Norwegian oil and gas company Statoil ASA said Wednesday it had purchased 70,000 acres of shale gas acreage in the U.S. Marcellus area for $590 million, and said it would become operator of the acreage.

The acreage was purchased from the unlisted U.S. energy companies Grenadier Energy Partners LLC, PetroEdge Energy LLC and the Tulsa-based Protégé Energy LLC, Statoil said.

Statoil estimated its share of the resources at 300 million to 500 million barrels of oil equivalent. Its share of production at this stage was about 5,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, but there was a significant ramp-up potential, it said.

"Statoil is further strengthening its U.S. onshore portfolio," said Torstein Hole, Statoil's senior vice president for U.S. onshore. "The U.S. unconventional plays hold a substantial resource base and represent an increasingly important part of future energy supplies."

The company said most of the new acreage was located in the liquid rich part of the Marcellus. In the U.S., natural gas liquids such as ethane, propane and butane currently trade at better prices than dry gas resources.

Statoil entered the Marcellus in 2008 through a partnership with Chesapeake Energy Corp. It also acquired acreage in the liquid rich Eagle Ford Shale in Texas in 2010, and became operator of leases in the Bakken in North Dakota and Three Forks in Montana in 2011.

In 2013, Statoil will become operator of 50% of its Eagle Ford acreage, following a 2010 agreement with Talisman Energy Inc.

"We are already operator in Bakken, we are on schedule to become operator in Eagle Ford next year and with this transaction Statoil will become operator also in Marcellus", said Mr. Hole. "We will then be operator in all our significant U.S. shale plays."

The transaction was closed Dec 18, 2012, and effective from Sep 1, 2012.

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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