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Leucadia Unit Snags Bakken Acreage for $190M

Vitesse Energy Finance on Monday expanded its stake in the Bakken Shale in North Dakota with the $190 million purchase of 23,000 net acres.

The acreage being acquired currently produces an estimated 4,200 boe/d, with about 85% of the lease still to be developed. Management, which did not disclose the seller, said the purchase essentially doubles its stake in the Bakken.

The privately held operator is 97% owned by Leucadia National Corp., a diversified investment holding company that formerly backed, among other things, the West Coast liquefied natural gas (LNG) project Oregon LNG. Leucadia withdrew its support for the Oregon proposal in 2016. Vitesse secured most of the equity for the Bakken purchase from Leucadia, according to Leucadia unit Jefferies Group LLC.

Leucadia CEO Rich Handler and President Brian Friedman called the Bakken assets a "compelling investment," and said the "risk/return attractive." They said that most of the acquired assets are already well known to Vitesse CEO Bob Gerrity and his team.

"Vitesse is simply increasing its working interest in high-returning Bakken drilling spacing units and flowing wells in which it has an existing interest," said Handler and Friedman. They expect Vitesse's future financial performance to improve as Leucadia continues to provide financing as a nonoperating partner. Plans call for developing more horizontal oil wells.

In 2014, Leucadia subsidiary Vitesse Energy LLC, paid about $186.5 million to buy more than 19,000 acres in the Williston Basin from EnerVest Operating LLC. The assets included a working interest in about 600 wells primarily in North Dakota’s Williams, McKenzie and Mountrail counties.

Leucadia also noted it plans to change its name to Jefferies Financial Group Inc. with overall liquidity of $2.8 billion.


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