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Natural Resource Partners Enters Bakken with Abraxas Deal

Natural Resource Partners LP (NRP) is buying nonoperated working interests in Bakken/Three Forks producing oil and gas properties from Abraxas Petroleum Corp. for $35.3 million in cash, marking its entry into the Bakken Shale.

The acquisition consists of about 13,500 net acres that are held by production with an estimated average working interest of 11% in the Bakken/Three Forks. It includes about 120 producing wells in addition to interests in 22 wells that are in various stages of development. NRP said it anticipates funding $8.1 million in additional capital expenditures associated with the new wells this year, a portion of which is to be paid at closing.

"This acquisition marks NRP's strategic entry into the Bakken play and into owning nonoperated working interests in oil and gas assets," said NRP COO Nick Carter. "This adds further diversity to NRP's revenue going forward."

Houston-based NRP said it expects the acquisition to close in the third quarter and to be immediately accretive to unitholders. The deal is subject to customary conditions and has an effective date of March 1, 2013.

Bob Watson, CEO of San Antonio-based Abraxas, said the deal was "transformational" for the company as it reduces leverage and shifts its focus to the core Abraxas-operated portfolio. "Heading forward we will continue to rationalize our asset base to focus on our core operated properties primarily in the Bakken and Eagle Ford," he said. "Moreover, the removal of the nonoperated Bakken assets from our portfolio will provide the company with a much more predictable production growth profile and capex [capital expenditure] schedule."

Including the nonoperated Bakken sale, Abraxas has divested about 502 boe/d for gross proceeds of $47.3 million since the beginning of the year, the company said. The asset sales have also removed about $10 million of budgeted capex commitments for Abraxas. Sales proceeds are to be used to pay down the company's bank line before being ultimately redeployed to core areas. Abraxas is now projecting production of 4,550-4,700 boe/d for this year.

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