Ultra Petroleum Sells Its 72K Marcellus Acres to Alta Res. for $115M

Ultra Petroleum, based in Houston, TX, is an independent exploration and production (E&P) company mainly focused on drilling in the Green River Basin of Wyoming. Ultra also drills for oil in the Uinta Basin/Three Rivers area in Utah. In addition, Ultra maintains a “non-operated” (someone else does the drilling) position in the Pennsylvania Marcellus shale with leases on 72,000 net acres–no small amount. As recently as May of this year Ultra CEO Michael Watford signaled that the Marcellus acreage is not a drain on their budget, so they would just hold on to it and see what happens (see Ultra Petroleum 1Q17 – Holding on to 72K Marcellus Acres, for Now). What happened is the company saw an opportunity to cash in that acreage, and the wells producing on it, for $115 million in cold, hard cash that they can use elsewhere. Ultra announced a deal yesterday to sell all of their Marcellus acreage/wells, mostly located in Centre and Clinton counties in north-central PA, to Alta Resources. Alta is not a name we’ve seen a lot, but they were one of the first drillers we wrote about just after starting the MDN website back in 2009 (see Texas Billionaire George Mitchell is Betting on the Marcellus in PA). George Mitchell, widely recognized as the father of shale energy, was a partner in Alta and had glowing things to say about the Marcellus. Mitchell died in 2013. His legacy lives on. According to Alta’s website, the company has drilled or participated in more than a thousand wells–in Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Pennsylvania and Alberta, Canada. The most recent news related to Alta in our area, prior to yesterday’s announcement, was their purchase of Anadarko’s Marcellus assets for $1.24 billion in December 2016 (see Anadarko Sells All Marcellus Assets for $1.24B to Alta Resources). Seems like December is the month to watch for an Alta purchase in the Marcellus!…

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