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EnerVest Drops Oil/Gas Properties to EVEP in $259M Deal

EV Energy Partners LP said Thursday it would acquire oil and natural gas properties in four basins across the country in a $259 million dropdown from institutional funds managed by affiliate EnerVest Ltd.

The properties, located in the Appalachian Basin, New Mexico's San Juan Basin, Michigan and Texas' Austin Chalk hold proved reserves of 302 Bcfe, EVEP said. In all, the deal would add more than 9,400 wells in mostly legacy fields to the company's inventory. EVEP said it expects daily production to increase 33% after the dropdown is completed in October.

"These assets we are acquiring have much lower initial operating risks since EnerVest has been acting as operator of these properties for the past five to ten years," said EVEP CEO Michael Mercer on Thursday during a conference call with financial analysts to discuss the acquisitions. "With many third-party acquisitions, there have been unanticipated expenses or production deficits. These uncertainties can end up resulting in a disconnect between projected and realized cash flows; however, with these acquisitions, we know what we're getting."

About 40% of the new reserves, Mercer said, would come with the acquisition of Ohio-based conventional producer Belden & Blake Corp., which was acquired by EnerVest funds in 2005. Belden & Blake has a sizable position in Ohio's East Canton oilfield, where EVEP has also been active drilling horizontal wells in the long-producing Clinton Sandstone in the northeast part of the state. With a 100% ownership interest in Belden, Mercer said, EVEP would "virtually control" the field, where he said there's hundreds of locations to be drilled.

Under the agreement, Belden & Blake would remain a C-Corp. and be a wholly-owned EVEP subsidiary subject to federal and state taxes. Mercer said those taxes would be negligible for the remainder of the year and would be less than $1 million in 2016 and 2017.

The other properties being acquired would increase EVEP's working interest in existing assets in the Austin Chalk, Appalachian Basin and San Juan Basin. All the properties include about 55 MMcfe/d of current production and consist of 69% natural gas, 15% natural gas liquids and 16% crude oil.

Mercer said the new properties would help increase production and diversify the company's portfolio. Prior to the announcement, the Barnett Shale in Texas accounted for 58% of the company's proved reserves.

EnerVest has a 71.25% ownership interest in EVEP's general partner. After the dropdown, EVEP said it would have $300 million available under its borrowing base. It expects the new reserves to add about $130 million in borrowing capacity during its redetermination next month.

EVEP's second quarter production declined by 7% from the year-ago period with inclement weather in Texas, Appalachian shut-ins and lower-than-expected non-operated production (see Shale Daily, Aug. 17). It's year-over-year revenue also fell from $89.3 million in 2Q2014 to $44.4 million in 2Q2015.

In the last year, the company has netted more than $767 million by selling Eagle Ford formation rights, and its stakes in a Utica Shale gathering system and processing facility (see Shale Daily, April 6; Sept. 23, 2014). Those sales helped it earn a full-year profit of $129.7 million last year,  compared to a net loss of $76.2 million in 2013. The sale of its interest in the Utica processing facility helped lift second quarter profits to $164.1 million from a net loss of of $61.4 million in the first quarter.

Management said last month that the company continues to explore an estimated $9 billion worth of assets that are either on the market or expected to become available in the coming months. When asked why it elected a dropdown instead of a third-party acquisition, EVEP Executive Chairman John Walker said the available assets remain overvalued in the current commodity price environment.

"There's going to be no surprise on this [acquisition]," he said of the dropdown. "At this point in the market, we wanted to buy something that we really knew well...that fits with our existing assets."

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