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Newfield Stacking Up Meramec Prospects in $470M Deal With Chesapeake

Newfield Exploration Co. agreed Thursday to pay Chesapeake Energy Corp. $470 million to tack on 42,000 net acres in the Meramec reservoir, which would boost its position in Oklahoma's liquids-rich reservoirs to 350,000-plus.

Current production from the Chesapeake assets, 90% held by production (HBP), is 3,800 boe/d net, 55% weighted to liquids, which Newfield said would "more than double" by year's end as recently drilled wells are completed and turned to sales.

The new position overlaps with existing acreage within the Sooner Trend of the Anadarko Basin, which runs through Canadian and Kingfisher counties, i.e., the STACK. Newfield, one of the earliest movers in the basin's stacked reservoirs, works in Kingfisher, Blaine, Dewey and Canadian counties, where it now has around 265,000 net acres.

"This bolt-on acquisition is ideal for Newfield, combining strategic fit in a growing resource play where we have a clear competitive advantage," said Newfield Chairman Lee Boothby. "As the discoverer and founder of STACK, we have drilled more than a quarter of the play's total wells and are the proven leader.

"Time and again, we have demonstrated our ability to efficiently move large-scale resource plays from concept to discovery, through the HBP phase and into full-field development. We expect that this acquisition will create significant, incremental future value for our shareholders."

Of the total price that Newfield paid for the assets, about $50 million is associated with proved developed producing (PDP) reserves and reimbursement for the recently drilled wells to be completed. Excluding PDP and reimbursement allocations, the undeveloped acreage value equates to about $10,000/acre, the company said.

To date, Newfield said it cumulatively has invested "less than $3,000/acre" across its STACK portfolio, where it has an average working interest of about 50%. The company, headquartered north of Houston in The Woodlands, also said it has identified more than 1,000 potential drilling locations on the newly acquired acreage.

With the sale, Chesapeake still would have around 52,000 net acres in the STACK alone, CEO Doug Lawler said Thursday during a conference call to discuss first quarter results.

"The STACK acreage sale...accelerates value from a portion of our undeveloped acreage that currently generates very little cash flow, giving us the ability to enhance current liquidity," Lawler said.

Chesapeake's Jason Piggot, southern division chief, said the company had "upside" in the Meramec from its remaining acreage, and "it's not necessarily all gas-related," with opportunities in, the Oswego, among other reservoirs in the Anadarko Basin. The company's position is "much more than the Meramec,"and "larger than this small STACK area...

"There are all kinds of stacked plays with new tests all the time. Because of our large acreage, we will be set to take advantage of those new prospects as this year progresses into next year."

Chesapeake in February reported that it had completed three Meramec wells (see Shale DailyFeb. 24). The Rouce 4-17-10 1H reached peak production of 1,260 boe/d, with the Wittrock 16-16-9 1H at 2,240 boe/d. The Stangl 36-16-9 1H reached 1,480 boe/d after eight days of flowback. Two Oswego wells also were being completed and turned to sales in the second quarter.

Improved drilling techniques are tapping into reservoirs today from Oklahoma's carbonate, limestone, sand and shale in other formations, which in addition to the Meramec and Oswego include, among others, the Atoka, Caney, Tonkawa, Cleveland, Marmaton, Springer, Hunton Lime, Hogshooter and Osage. Information about Oklahoma's stacked plays are included in NGI's North American Shale & Resource Plays Factbook, which was updated earlier this year.

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