Norwegian energy powerhouse Statoil ASA on Friday said it would buy another 59,000 net acres in the Marcellus Shale from Chesapeake Energy Corp., which has been its partner in the play since 2008.

Statoil in late 2008 paid Chesapeake $3.38 billion to buy a big chunk of the Oklahoma City-based driller’s Marcellus leasehold (see Daily GPI, Nov. 12, 2008). About $1.25 billion was paid for a 32.5% stake in the acreage, and $2.13 billion was set aside to fund 75% of the drilling and completion costs to 2012. On a per-acre basis, Statoil paid around $5,800/acre net.

Under the joint venture agreement, Statoil has the right to periodically acquire a share of leasehold that Chesapeake acquires in the Marcellus Shale. In the latest Marcellus transaction, Statoil paid Chesapeake $253 million, with an average cost of $4,325 an acre, Statoil officials said.

Statoil already had about 600,000 net acres in the shale play. The new purchase gives it the right to partner with Chesapeake to optimize the play’s development, said Andy Winkle, who oversees Statoil’s transactions.

“We were an early mover into the Marcellus and we will continue to build a long-term position in what we expect will become a legacy asset and reach our goal of 50,000 boe/d production by 2012,” Winkle said.

Chesapeake’s gross output in the Marcellus Shale last year was around 100 MMcf/d from about 60 wells.

Statoil and Chesapeake in February joined El Paso Corp.’s Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. (TGP) to take 100% of the capacity for TGP’s proposed Northeast Upgrade project to provide 636,000 Dth of incremental firm transportation capacity from the 300 Line Project (see Daily GPI, Feb. 17). The pipeline would carry gas from Pennsylvania to an interconnect in New Jersey.

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