EQT Corp. said Tuesday that it would spend $683 million for nearly 60,000 net acres in the Appalachian Basin and acquire West Virginia pure-play Trans Energy Inc. in a related tender offer to buy all of the company’s outstanding shares.

EQT said it would spend $513 million to purchase 42,600 net acres in Marion, Wetzel and Marshall counties, WV, from Trans Energy and its privately-owned joint venture partner Republic Energy Inc. The Marcellus Shale heavyweight said it would spend another $170 million to acquire 17,000 net acres in Washington, Westmoreland and Greene counties, PA, from an undisclosed third party. In all, the acquisitions would boost EQT’s Marcellus position to 400,000 acres.

Under the terms of the Trans Energy merger agreement, EQT has agreed to purchase all of the company’s outstanding shares for $3.58 each. After the tender offer is finished, Trans Energy would survive as a subsidiary of EQT.

West Virginia-based Trans Energy operated in Marion, Wetzel and Marshall counties. It defaulted under its credit agreement in May and recently entered a forbearance agreement with its lender that forced the company to consider the monetization of its assets. Traded over-the-counter, Trans Energy drilled no wells in 2015 and has lost millions in revenue and profits during the commodities downturn. Prior to the fall in oil and gas prices, the company had been growing with the aim of monetizing anyway.

Over the past four years, EQT has been working to block-up its acreage position in the basin, most recently acquiring 62,500 net acres in West Virginia from Statoil ASA for $407 million (see Shale Daily, May 3). The company said it would pay for its latest purchase with cash on hand, noting that much of the acreage is contiguous with its existing position, which would allow it to extend lateral lengths.

The 42,600 acre acquisition includes 250 undeveloped locations and 42 MMcfe/d of current production. It’s also prospective for about 29,000 deep Utica acres. The assets have an 85% net revenue interest and 89% is either held-by-production (HBP) or have leases that extend beyond 2018.

In Pennsylvania, the 17,000 acres include 97 undeveloped locations and current production of 2 MMcfe/d. The block is also prospective for about 10,300 deep Utica acres. The land has an 85% net revenue interest and 96% is either HBP or has leases that extend beyond 2018.

Trans Energy noted in recent regulatory filings that it has drilled few Marcellus wells on its acreage and lacks the kind of experience more established operators have. Its stock has traded at a 52-week high of $3.55/share. Both of EQT’s acreage transactions are expected to close by the end of the year, while the Trans Energy board has approved the terms of the merger and urged shareholders to accept EQT’s tender offer.