STAVANGER, Norway, Dec. 19 (UPI) -- Norwegian energy company Statoil announced Wednesday it was spending $590 million to acquire acreage in the Marcellus shale play in the United States.
"The U.S. unconventional plays hold a substantial resource base and represent an increasingly important part of future energy supplies," Torstein Hole, vice president of U.S. onshore operations, said in a statement.
"Statoil is further strengthening its US onshore portfolio by acquiring additional acreage in the valuable liquid rich parts of the Marcellus shale in Ohio and West Virginia."
The company said it was purchasing around 70,000 net acres in the gas-rich play for $590 million. Marcellus is one of the richest shale plays in the United States. The U.S. Energy Department said rig counts there were declining but natural gas production increased 72 percent in October compared to the same time last year.
Statoil started work in the region in 2008. By next year, it will become an operator in part of the Eagle Ford shale play in Texas and is already working in the Bakken formation in the Northern Plains states.
"We are already operator in Bakken, we are on schedule to become operator in Eagle Ford next year and with this transaction Statoil will become operator also in Marcellus," said Hole. "We will then be operator in all of our significant U.S. shale plays."