Hess Continues East Ohio Buying

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – Those who signed natural gas leases with Marquette Exploration now have a contract with New York City-based Hess Corp., because of a $750 million acquisition.

Combined with Hess’ recent $593 million deal with Consol Energy for Utica Shale acreage in eastern Ohio, Hess has spent $1.34 billion over the past few weeks to acquire the rights to about 185,000 acres in Belmont, Jefferson, Harrison and Guernsey counties.

“With these transactions, we have built a strategic acreage position in the Utica Shale, allowing us to strengthen our portfolio of unconventional resources in high quality assets, leverage our operating expertise and create significant potential for future growth in reserves and production,” said John Hess, chairman and chief executive officer of Hess.

The leases, in which Hess will have a 100 percent working interest, are in Jefferson, Harrison and Belmont counties. Together with the joint venture with Consol – which specifically gives Hess a 50 percent of Consol’s mineral rights to about 200,000 acres in eastern Ohio – makes the New York City-based company a major player in local Utica Shale.

Founded in 2006, Texas-based Marquette has been leasing considerable amounts of acreage for natural gas development in Belmont, Jefferson and Harrison counties. The company has maintained a satellite office in St. Clairsville.

Officials at this office directed all questions to Hess officials, who only directed The Intelligencer to the company’s press release.

According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Marquette has active operations near St. Clairsville and Flushing in Belmont County, as well as near Smithfield, Dillonvale and Cross Creek in Jefferson County.

Recently, Harrison County commissioners entered into an agreement with Marquette for 25.67 acres at $3,700 per acre, which totals $94,979 for the lease.

Another Marquette contract signed with Jefferson and Harrison County mineral owners would pay them nearly $80 million because of the $3,700 per acre lease payments. The owners would get 17.5 percent of the royalties for any gas that comes from the property.

This acreage, now under the control of Hess, is perhaps best described as being mostly in the Buckeye Local, Indian Creek Local, Edison Local and Harrison Hills City School Districts. This encompasses the areas of Richmond and Irondale in the north, Smithfield and Adena in the south, Cadiz in the west and Wintersville in the east.

The shale play in Belmont and other local Ohio counties is so large that Aubrey McClendon, chief executive officer of Chesapeake Energy, announced in his company’s recent earnings statement, “Chesapeake is announcing the discovery of a major new liquids-rich play in the Utica Shale.”