Marcellus Shale pure-play operator Trans Energy Inc. announced a deal late Thursday to sell one-third of its net acreage in West Virginia to an undisclosed buyer for $71.3 million.

Trans Energy, which is headquartered in West Virginia, where all of its acreage is located, said the deal is expected to close three months after the agreement is signed, pending title and environmental work. Prior to the sale, Trans Energy had more than 45,000 gross acres in Marshall, Wetzel and Marion counties that were also prospective for the Utica and Upper Devonian shales. The company said it would sell 5,159 net acres and 12 producing Marcellus wells in the core area of Wetzel County.

Traded over-the-counter, Trans Energy has been working through a joint venture with privately-owned Republic Energy Inc., of Dallas, TX, to consolidate its assets for monetization. The company has 77.3 Bcfe in proved reserves and recently reached 20 MMcfe/d in production, according to its latest investor presentation.

“We have been successful in our efforts to expand the overall acreage position of our joint development arrangement with Republic Energy over the past year, particularly in Marion and Marshall Counties,” said Trans Energy President John Corp. “We believe that this will continue to be the case over the near term and that allocating a significant portion of the proceeds from the sale toward debt repayment will better position us to then focus on the development of our core acreage positions in Marshall and Marion counties.”

The deal comes as commodity prices continue to remain low and after year-end comments from larger independent exploration and production companies that said they would pounce on the right opportunities to build on their own acreage positions in basins across the country (see Shale Daily, Feb. 27; Feb. 23). Trans Energy said that along with Republic, it would continue to hold a combined 27,800 net acres in Marshall and Marion counties, where management believes it can ultimately drill more than 350 horizontal Marcellus wells.

The company expects to receive $47 million in cash once the deal closes. The remaining money, Trans Energy said, will be held in escrow until title work on the properties is completed.