East Resources Sells to Royal Dutch Shell for $4.7 Billion, Deal Includes All of East’s Marcellus Shale Operations

East Resources, a major drilling company in the Marcellus Shale, especially in Pennsylvania, is selling itself to Royal Dutch Shell for a whopping $4.7 billion. From drilling a single horizontal Marcellus Shale gas well in 2009, East has drilled some 75 horizontal wells in the past 12 months. East did have plans to drill 6,000-7,000 wells in Tioga County, PA over the next “several years” (see this MDN story). No word on the planned drilling for Tioga County and other regions, but MDN assume Shell did not invest in East to not drill. In fact, the pace of drilling may well pick up with Shell’s investment.

From the East Resources press release:

East Resources, Inc., a Pennsylvania-based independent oil and gas producer and one of the most active explorers in the Marcellus Shale, along with its private equity investor Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Company, signed a definitive agreement to sell the company’s principal subsidiaries to an affiliate of Royal Dutch Shell plc (“Shell”) for cash consideration of $4.7 billion. The sale includes East’s natural gas and oil exploration and production operations and most of its holdings in related businesses. With the purchase of East Resources, Shell will acquire approximately 650,000 net acres of Marcellus Shale rights in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and New York, and 1.05 million acres in total.

East Resources, founded in 1983 by Terrence M. Pegula, has been one of the Appalachian Basin’s most active exploration and production companies for more than 25 years. Since its inception, East has grown primarily through its exploration successes, several strategic acquisitions, and most recently the development of the Marcellus Shale.

East Resources employs approximately 300 office and field personnel in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New York and Colorado. Its principal offices are located in Warrendale, PA, Broomfield, CO and Parkersburg, WV. Shell will continue to operate with East’s workforce to ensure continuing success in the growth and development of the reserves it will acquire in the purchase.

The sale of East Resources to Shell is expected to close in two phases. The first phase of the sale will be completed in mid- to late summer. The second phase of the sale, including the sale of the West Virginia business, will close later this year, pending certain regulatory approvals.

“The sale of the company to Shell will ensure that the capital needed to develop East’s significant Marcellus Shale holdings will be available,” says Mr. Pegula, East’s owner and Chief Executive Officer. “Shell’s entry into the region should benefit Pennsylvania, West Virginia and New York through significant new capital investment, new jobs and new business opportunities. I am very proud that this transaction has brought Shell into the Appalachian Basin.”

President of Shell Oil Company, Marvin Odum commented, “East Resources’ management has built an excellent organization which we are pleased to have as we enter the northeast US and specifically the Marcellus Shale play.”*

*East Resources Press Release (May 28) – East Resources Inc announces sales agreement with Royal Dutch Shell plc