EV Energy Partners LP (EVEP) said that although it has received offers for its acreage in the Utica Shale, the company does not expect to announce an agreement before the end of the year.

“EVEP has received bona fide offers to purchase its operated acreage in the Utica Shale, and is in substantive negotiations with potential purchasers to sell the acreage,” the company said Monday. “However, EVEP does not expect to announce any agreements for the sale of the Utica Shale prior to the end of 2012.”

Houston-based EVEP is a publicly traded MLP controlled by EnerVest Ltd., the second biggest leaseholder in the Utica. The company has been seeking a buyer for most of its position in the Utica — 539,000 net acres — since September (see Shale Daily, Sept. 18).

During an earnings call on Nov. 9, EnerVest CEO John Walker said several bids had been received for its Utica acreage, and added that the company hoped to fetch as much as $6 billion in a deal before the end of the year (see Shale Daily, Nov. 12).

EnerVest executives have previously disclosed that the sale of its acreage in the Utica would free up proceeds for other oil and gas fields that require less capital and are less risky. The company hired Jeffries & Co. to find a buyer, who would become a joint venture (JV) partner with Chesapeake Energy Corp.

Last January French energy giant Total SA’s purchased a 25% stake in Chesapeake’s Utica leasehold for $2.32 billion (see Shale Daily, Jan. 4; Nov. 4, 2011). The deal, which included acreage in 10 eastern Ohio counties, fetched about $15,000/acre net, giving Chesapeake $2.03 billion and EnerVest $290 million.

Shares of EVEP were trading at $57.11/share (up 84 cents/share, 1.49%) in midday trading Wednesday on NASDAQ.