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Statoil Sells Operated West Virginia Properties to EQT For $407M

Statoil ASA has agreed to sell all of its operated properties in West Virginia to EQT Corp. for $407 million in cash, the company said late Monday.

The deal, which is expected to close in early July, includes 62,500 net acres that are prospective for both the Marcellus and Utica shales. The assets, EQT said, are primarily located in Wetzel, Tyler and Harrison counties near the company's existing operations in the state. They're currently producing 50 MMcfe/d.

The acreage block would add 500 undeveloped locations and extend the lateral length of others nearby already owned by EQT.  Overall, the acquisition would increase EQT's core undeveloped Marcellus acreage by 29%. The properties also include 31 Marcellus wells, of which 24 are currently producing. Three other wells are complete but not online, and four are drilled but uncompleted.

EQT said the properties include 53,000 net acres that are prospective for the Utica Shale, while the resource potential of all the acreage is estimated at 9.2 Tcf. And 87% of the assets are either held-by-production or have lease expiration terms that extend beyond 2018.

Statoil said the assets are non-core, adding that they produced 9,300 boe/d during the first quarter. After the sale, Statoil would be left with its operated properties in Ohio and its non-operated Marcellus assets in the Appalachian Basin. Prior to the acquisition, EQT had drilling rights to nearly 3.4 million acres across the Appalachian Basin in Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Virginia.

On its first quarter earnings call last week, EQT said it was looking to block-up its core acreage position in the southwestern Marcellus area of Pennsylvania and West Virginia, which is where the company's midstream position is strongest (see Shale DailyApril 28). Statoil also announced the deal last week during its earnings call, saying it had reached an agreement to sell noncore acreage in the U.S. onshore for about $400 million in cash, but stopping short of providing details until the sale was definitive.

EQT, which has a capital budget of $1 billion for this year, said the acquisition would not change its 2016 spending plans. The company announced a public stock offering of 10.5 million common shares priced at $67 each on Monday to fund the acquisition. It also granted the underwriters an option to purchase up to 1.575 million additional shares.

Based on the locations, analysts at Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. (TPH) estimated that about two-thirds of the acreage is wet gas while the rest is dry gas. The purchase price, they said, implies that EQT would pay about $4,900/acre. That's compared to TPH's estimate of EQT's existing wet gas position in the state, which the bank valued at $14,000/acre at higher commodity prices.

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