Falling in line with the recent trend of producers targeting more liquid shale plays due to the better economics, Hess Corp. announced it is paying $1.05 billion in cash to acquire 167,000 net acres in the Bakken Shale of North Dakota from TRZ Energy LLC.

Current net production of the North Dakota properties being acquired is 4,400 boe/d. The new leasehold is near the company’s existing property, which it purchased for $445 million in July from American Oil and Gas Inc.

The deal comes less than a week after Williams Cos. agreed to pay $925 million to acquire 85,800 net acres in the Bakken Shale (see Shale Daily, Nov. 16).

“This acquisition strengthens our leading land position in the Bakken, leverages our operating capabilities and infrastructure and will contribute to future reserve and production growth,” said Greg Hill, Hess president of worldwide exploration and production.

The transaction is expected to close by Dec. 28.

With producers flocking to the more liquid shale plays such as the Bakken and Eagle Ford, midstream providers are not far behind. Last month ONEOK Partners LP announced plans to invest $300-355 million in natural gas-related projects in the Bakken Shale through 2012 to accommodate growing production (see Shale Daily, Oct. 6).

In separate news, the partnership in July said it expected to spend around $700 million for NGL growth projects in the region (see Daily GPI, July 27).