Chief Oil & Gas and two working interest partners have paid $500 million to Chesapeake Appalachia LLC to acquire MKR Holdings LLC, a deal that includes 130 MMcf/d of production, approximately 40 operated wells waiting on completion or pipeline, and about 75,000 gross-acre leasehold in Bradford, Lycoming, Sullivan, Susquehanna and Wyoming counties in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale, the privately-owned company said Wednesday.

The deal increases Chief’s position in the state to 210,000 acres. The company already had existing working interest in many of the wells included in the deal. Chief currently operates more than 100 wells in the Marcellus Shale.

The asset purchase is part of Chief’s multi-phase growth plan for the Marcellus region, according to Sam Fragale, senior vice president of operations for the company.

“This acquisition comes with existing cash flow from current production, increases our working interest in wells we currently operate and provides additional development opportunities in a great area,” Fragale said.

As it works to divest non-core acreage, the deal “is another positive step” for Chesapeake as the company moves deeper into the Doug Lawler era, said Wells Fargo Senior Analyst David Tameron. Lawler, a former Anadarko Petroleum Corp. executive who became Chesapeake CEO in June following the departure in April of co-founder Aubrey McClendon, has made financial discipline his top priority (see Shale Daily, Oct. 10; May 21).

Chief’s working interest partners on the acquisition were Enerplus and Tug Hill, a diversified investment firm based in Fort Worth, TX. Tug Hill’s largest investment concentration is in the domestic oil and gas industry as an operator through affiliate Tug Hill Operating.

Enerplus recently increased its 2013 estimates for annual average and exit production, thanks to a “strong performance” from its core assets in the Marcellus and Bakken shales (see Shale Daily, Oct. 24). The Calgary-based independent has signed an agreement to sell 900 boe/d of non-core liquids production to an undisclosed buyer for approximately $105 million, a deal it expects will close before the end of the year.