Statoil completes sale of Marcellus acreage

Norwegian company still holds hundreds of thousands of acres in parts of Ohio.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   Sept. 16, 2016 at 9:24 AM
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STAVANGER, Norway, Sept. 16 (UPI) -- Norwegian energy company Statoil said it retained some of its shale acreage in the United States, but completed a sale Friday of assets in West Virginia.

Statoil said it closed Friday on the $96 million sale of 11,500 acres in the Marcellus shale natural gas basin in West Virginia to Antero Resources Corp. The Norwegian company retains about 350,000 net acres of the Marcellus shale natural gas basin in Ohio.

The sale from the Marcellus shale, initialized in August, is the third for Statoil in the past two years. In December 2014, the company sold some of its interest in Marcellus for $394 million after suspending some rig work to save capital.

Marcellus represents about 18 percent of total U.S. gas production and remains one of the more attractive shale basins in the United States. The August sale announcement to Antero followed Statoil's financial release for the second quarter, which showed an adjusted operating profit of $913 million, down from the $2.9 billion reported one year ago. Spending plans for 2016 were revised lower by $1 billion to $12 billion.

The Marcellus basin is one of the more lucrative reserve areas in the United States. A drilling productivity report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration finds total natural gas production is expected to increase slightly as more rigs enter the area.

Net equity production for Statoil was 6 percent higher than the second quarter of 2015 in part because of discoveries off the coast of Norway, as well as one in Canada. As of June 30, the company said it completed only about a dozen or so wells, however, and spending on exploration and production for the quarter was down almost 20 percent year-on-year.

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