Wall Street likes what it sees in the Utica and, if insiders have it right, so does Aubrey McClendon, former CEO of Chesapeake.
McClendon has always big on the Utica, and Wells Fargo Securities thinks that hasn’t changed.
McClendon’s American Energy Partners may have been behind the EV Energy Partners LP (Nasdaq: EVEP) and EnerVest agreement to sell acreage in Ohio's Utica shale for $284.3 million, said David Tameron, Wells Fargo senior analyst.
“One interesting datapoint that surfaced was that American Energy Partners is getting aggressive in the basin,” Tameron said. “From very good sources we heard that Mr. McClendon’s company was the purchaser of the recent EVEP/Enervest divestment.”
Tameron also said there are reports that Shell is in talks with McClendon’s company for the sale of sale of 50,000 Utica acres.
“By our estimates, the stake could be worth $675 million,” Tameron.
About 100,000 net Niobrara acres are also said to be for sale by shale for $451 million.
“Along with the recent Shell package, which was also reportedly Mr. McClendon, American Energy is accumulating a nice acreage position in the Utica,” Tameron said.
The Aug. 9 sale by EVEP netted it about $56 million for 4,345 acres. The buyer was not disclosed, but in all purchased 22,535 net acres in Guernsey, Harrison and Noble counties in the southern Utica’s wet-gas window. Since 2012, EVEP and EnerVest have been marketing the land, which consists of more than 330,000 EnerVest net working interest acres.
EV Energy Partners is a publicly traded MLP, with EnerVest serving as the controlling member.
The deal is expected to close at the end of September. EVEP will retain its overriding royalty interests in the land.
McClendon’s tactics at Chesapeake consisted of rushing to buy as much acreage in emerging plays as possible. The Utica is by some accounts a huge source of potential value, constrained by lack of infrastructure.
“This is a good first step in our revised Utica acreage sale process,” said John B. Walker, chairman of EV Energy. “The value of this sale averages $12,900 per acre. We look forward to announcing additional deals as they occur.”
In fact, the land’s value commanded a price 72% higher than a model by Baird Energy Partners, which had estimated a price of $7,500.
But McClendon has said before the acreage is what matters in end the end.
The Utica has a long road ahead of it before it reaches the dynamics of the Marcellus.
But the Ohio play still cannot rival the vast, active Marcellus Shale.