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CHK Selling Off 94K Utica Acres

April 29, 2013
By CASEY JUNKINS - Staff Writer , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

CADIZ - Hoping to focus more on what Chesapeake Energy considers the Utica Shale's "core wet gas window" in Harrison and Jefferson counties, the company wants to sell 94,205 acres in northeast Ohio.

"That acreage can be more valuable to someone else than to us regarding where we're putting our rigs," Chesapeake spokesman Michael Kehs said.

After a rocky 2012 that saw company founder and Chief Executive Officer Aubrey McClendon under fire for taking a 2.5 percent stake in northern West Virginia drilling operations, Chesapeake reported a $940 million loss for stockholders for 2012. Fortunes improved as the year progressed, however, as the company reported $257 million in income for stockholders during the final three months of 2012.

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Chesapeake Energy wants to sell 94,205 acres of Utica Shale land in northeast Ohio to concentrate more on drilling in Jefferson, Harrison, Columbiana and Carroll counties.

Company leaders have been looking to sell assets in an effort to pay off debt.

According to the listing on the website of Meagher Energy Advisors, the acreage up for sale includes many areas of Stark County, as well as southern Portage County. A map on the Meagher website shows most of this acreage located in the "oil window" of the Utica Shale.

According to the Dow Jones Newswires, the available land is approximately 10 percent of the one million net acres Chesapeake owns in the Utica Shale formation. True value depths up to 6,800 feet are possible with the available lands.

In the Ohio Utica Shale, a Jefferson County well yielded 425 daily barrels of liquids and 6.7 million cubic feet of natural gas. Chesapeake does show Ohio oil production to the north, however, as one Carroll County well produced 525 barrels of oil daily.

Chesapeake is the largest active natural gas and oil driller in the Upper Ohio Valley. To this point, most of the focus for drilling in the Marcellus and Utica shale formations has been on dry methane natural gas, in addition to liquids such as ethane, propane and butane.

Tim Dugan, Chesapeake's district manager for the Utica district, eastern division, said the company hopes to focus more efforts on its core ethane, propane and butane windows in Harrison, Jefferson, Carroll and Columbiana counties.

"I am hoping that the Utica will achieve profitability faster than any other Chesapeake play," Dugan said. "Everyone shares their knowledge and experience from other plays. For instance, a big challenge in the Utica is that the liquid-rich nature of this play adds complexity to the development process."

The company expects to raise the number of operating rigs in this area to 17 in 2013. Of the 179 wells Chesapeake has drilled thus far in the Utica, 45 are producing while 45 await pipeline connections.

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