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Royale Touts JV for Alaska North Slope Shale Acreage

Royale Energy Inc. said Wednesday it struck a $43 million joint venture (JV) agreement with an unnamed company to fund exploration costs on its Alaska North Slope acreage.

Shares of the company rocketed 67% Wednesday to $3.34 from $2.00 on the news.

Royale is to receive $100/acre in cash, stock options and exploration cost-sharing for a total of more than $1,200/acre for up to 50,875 acres of its 96,000-acre North Slope holdings, the San Diego, CA-based company said.

"An undisclosed company has agreed in principal to fund all exploration costs for seismic data acquisition and the drilling of two horizontal wells for a total of $38 million," the company said. "Additionally Royale is to receive $3.37 million for the 33,736 acres on the company's western block, together with stock options and a right to receive an additional $1.7 million for 17,000 acres in the company's central block.

"We are pleased to have found a company that shares our vision and optimism for the potential of these important Alaska shale oil resources," said Stephen Hosmer, Royale co-CEO. "This agreement will allow us to confirm participation in a planned 3-D seismic data acquisition scheduled to take place later this year over our acreage."

The focus of the exploration that results from the agreement is to take place in the western block Royale acquired in December, the company said. Each well location is expected to be selected with the full support of seismic data, to test both conventional and shale oil resource accumulations anticipated to be present, Royale said.

The company was the high bidder in a December 2011 North Slope lease sale. For Royale, which sold all of its oil positions in the Monterey Shale in California in 2009, the North Slope is a much less costly way to re-enter the U.S. shale boom, Hosmer said at the time (see Shale Daily, Jan. 18, 2012).

The transaction is subject to consummation of a final agreement setting forth the detailed terms of investment and the exploration of the property. It is expected to be completed by May 30.

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