WildHorse Resource Development Corp. has bolted on 31,000-plus net acres to its Upper Eagle Ford Shale and Austin Chalk holdings in East Texas, giving it more running room to expand operations.

In two separate agreements, the Houston-based independent acquired a combined 20,305 net acres with production totaling about 39 boe/d net across Burleson, Brazos, Lee, and Washington counties. WildHorse also disclosed it has leased another 10,700 net acres in the area year to date, which has added 31,005 net acres total this year for around $43 million.

“The announced acquisitions are an excellent fit with our existing position,” said CEO Jay Graham. “With the bolt-on of another 31,005 net acres, we continue to fill in our acreage position and increase our working interest and operational control across the field.”

In total, WildHorse has a leasehold encompassing more than 418,000 net acres across the Eagle Ford.

“Our status as the largest player in the region allows us to acquire acreage at extremely attractive valuations,” Graham said. “We are committed to solely consolidating the northeast Eagle Ford and will continue to prudently add similar acreage where it makes economic sense and adds value to our shareholders.”

Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. (TPH) estimated WildHorse paid around $1,350/acre for the undeveloped acreage, which would be in line with recent transactions. The deal also appears attractive versus TPH’s proved, probable and possible, i.e. 3P net asset value, which implies around $14,000/acre for the Upper Eagle Ford acreage.

The acreage additions continue the company’s trend toward bolt-ons “and further the company's goal of consolidating the northeast Eagle Ford,” said analysts. “All in, we like the low entry price to continue blocking up the position…”

There’s also upside from recent well spacing results and the plans to add midstream, said analysts.

Earlier this month WildHorse said an oil and produced water gathering system underway could be completed by mid-2019, the first phase of several midstream expansions. The in-field oil gathering system is being designed to deliver “barrels from the wellhead to a central point in the field,” Graham said. In addition, the gathering system “will lower our lease operating expense on a boe basis and allows us to facilitate completions using recycled water.”

The producer, which expanded its East Texas portfolio last year, in the next few months plans to launch the second phase of midstream infrastructure projects, including a third-party long-haul pipeline that would transport 100% of its oil volumes to Gulf Coast markets for potential export.

In addition, an in-field sand mine by WildHorse to serve its East Texas well development could begin first sand loadings as early as Nov. 1 with operational capacity by Nov. 30.