Empire Petroleum Corp. formed a partnership to jointly develop recently acquired East Texas properties following a significant investment from The Woodlands, Texas-based Petroleum Independent & Exploration LLC (PIE).

Based in Tulsa, Okla., Empire Petroleum has current producing assets in Texas, Louisiana, North Dakota and Montana. The company looks for assets where its operational team can deploy rigorous field/well management techniques to reduce unit operating costs and improve margins while optimizing production. 

In an Aug. 11 release, Empire Petroleum said PIE had agreed to invest approximately $3.4 million through a securities purchase agreement providing PIE with the opportunity to own up to 40% of Empire equity and two board seats. Additionally, PIE agreed to provide Empire a loan for up to $2 million for worker development within its current East Texas assets.

“As a significant investor in Empire, combined with the operational expertise and capital to implement an initial robust workover program, we believe PIE is a terrific partner aligning with all shareholders,” Mike Morrisett, president of Empire Petroleum, said in an Aug. 11 statement.

According to the Empire release, PIE has identified the first of many workover/recompletion programs to potentially uplift field production in the company’s Fort Trinidad Field asset in Houston and Madison counties, Texas. The properties contain approximately 91% working interest and 83% net revenue interest and have been recently producing from multiple pays of the Glen Rose, Edwards and Buda formations.

PIE, led by Phil Mulacek, will contract operate the Fort Trinidad  Field. The group has been responsible for world class discoveries, such as the Elk and Antelope fields in Papua New Guinea, which were acquired by Exxon Mobil Corp. and Total SA in 2017, the release said.

“We’re pleased to have the opportunity to work with Phil and his highly experienced technical team at PIE,” Tommy Pritchard, CEO of Empire Petroleum, said in a statement on Aug. 11. “The enthusiasm shown while working on planning brought forward other potential acquisitions in close proximity to our strong position in the Fort Trinidad Field that we are currently evaluating.”