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Magnum Hunter Exits Canada, Narrowing Focus On the Appalachian Basin

Magnum Hunter Resources Corp. on Tuesday announced a definitive agreement to sell subsidiary Williston Hunter Canada Inc. and its last remaining oil and gas properties in Canada for $67.5 million as part of a strategy to dump more capital into its core assets in the Appalachian Basin.

The sale, to an undisclosed private Canadian company, is expected to close next month. The properties being sold include 49,470 net acres in the province of Saskatchewan with 84 gross wells producing 630 boe/d in the Tableland Field.

Magnum said it would use the proceeds to pay down outstanding debt under its senior revolving credit facility, which will free up more capital for existing and future assets in the Utica and Marcellus shales in Ohio and West Virginia, where the company's drilling program is gaining momentum.

In recent weeks, financial analysts have said they expect that Magnum will likely continue to sell assets in other basins across the country (see Shale Daily, April 15), including the Williston Basin, where the company has a significant footprint as well.

"We believe [Magnum] will make the complete transition to a pure-play over the next 12 months with the exit from the Bakken in North Dakota -- stay tuned," wrote Topeka Capital Markets analyst Gabriele Sorbara in a note to clients on Tuesday.

Sorbara added that he expects Magnum to announce the sale of its NGAS assets -- which the company acquired in 2010 from NGAS Resources Inc. (see Daily GPI, Dec. 28, 2010) -- in Kentucky's Huron Shale in the coming months for roughly $65 million.

Magnum's stock, which has been trading upwards of $8/share on the New York Stock Exchange since March, is likely to break out of that depressed range "over the next several months, with the improving assets in the Marcellus/Utica, expected production ramp into year-end and with further enhancements to its balance sheet [and] capital structure," Sorbara said.

Financial analysts have been more bullish on Magnum as of late.

Last month, the company said eight gross wells in Ohio and West Virginia would soon come online to net it an additional 800 boe/d (see Shale Daily, March 14). Magnum also plans to spend more than half of its capital budget this year in the Appalachian Basin and said in December that it would sell $200-400 million in noncore assets throughout 2014 (see Shale Daily, Dec. 12, 2013). In 2013, the company closed on $700 million in sales, including one to Penn Virginia Corp. for 19,000 net acres in the Eagle Ford Shale (see Shale Daily, April 4, 2013).

The company's final Canadian asset sale comes on the heels of another announced earlier this month in an 8-K filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. In the filing, Magnum said Williston Hunter Canada had sold 961 net acres and three producing wells in the Kiskatinaw formation of Alberta to BDJ Energy Inc for $8.7 million.

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