Hess Sells 74,000 OH Utica Shale Dry Gas Acres to Mystery Buyer

Looks like the end of 2014 came in January of 2014 for Hess. On Oct 30, 2013 Hess’ Executive VP and President of Worldwide Exploration & Production, Greg Hill, said that Hess was working on figuring out their Utica Shale acreage and where the wet gas area is located so they could make decisions about where they will and won’t drill. Hill said they would make their final decision “at the end of 2014 once we finish delineation” (see Hess Officials Talk About the Utica on 3Q13 Earnings Call). Yesterday Hess announced they have struck a deal to sell to sell 74,000 Utica Shale dry gas acres to an unnamed buyer for $924 million. End of 2014 (and Christmas) came early for Hess. Why sell now? And, who was the buyer? MDN thinks we know (we speculate below).

Hess owns a 100% interest in 95,000 Utica Shale acres, and a 50% interest (in a joint venture deal with CONSOL Energy) for another 65,000 Utica acres. In consulting the Hess map of their Utica acreage below (from a November 2013 investor presentation), you can get a pretty good idea of where the acreage they’ve sold is probably located. Much of Hess’ 100%-owned acreage is in the “dry gas” area on the map–our money is that most of that acreage is what got sold. No doubt landowners will soon receive notifications if they are among those being traded to another drilling team. Below is the Hess announcement (which is brief), the map we located which helps shed light on the brief announcement, and our speculation on why they sold now, and who purchased…

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