Private-equity sponsor Natural Gas Partners plans to sell some of its interest.

Former BlackRock Inc. managing director Dan Rice III and sons plan to IPO their 5-year-old, Marcellus- and Utica-focused Rice Energy Inc., listing it on the NYSE as RICE.

Dan Rice IV, 33, is chief executive officer and previously was an investment banker for Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. Securities Inc. and an analyst for offshore driller Transocean Inc.

Toby Rice, 31, president and chief operating officer, was founder and president of frac-technology firm ZFT LLC. Derek Rice, 28, is vice president, exploration and geology; previously, he worked as a wellbore geologist for an oilfield-service company.

Prior to joining BlackRock, Rice III, 62, was a portfolio manager for State Street Research & Management. Currently, he is lead portfolio manager for GRT Capital Partners LLC’s energy division.

The Rice family formed the E&P in 2008 and gained private-equity backing from Natural Gas Partners in 2012, currently totaling $300 million.

The Canonsburg, Pennsylvania-based producer holds some 43,351 net (45,562 gross) acres over Marcellus shale, mostly in Washington County, and 46,488 net (48,660 gross) over the Utica/Point Pleasant play, mostly in Belmont County, Ohio. Since its first horizontal Marcellus completion in October 2010, it now has 37 of these wells with a 100% success rate and laterals averaging some 5,700 feet. Estimated ultimate recovery is between 1.2- and 2.9 billion cubic feet of gas per 1,000 feet of lateral. It had four rigs drilling its inventory in December of an estimated 349 gross (325 net), additional Marcellus well locations.

Third-quarter 2013 production was 128 million cubic feet a day from the Marcellus wells as well as from its three horizontals in the overlying Upper Devonian. It expects most (36,932 net) of its Marcellus acreage is prospective for gas from this formation as well, resulting in 211 gross (194 net) potential, additional drilling locations.

Meanwhile, in the Utica play, it spud its first attempt, Bigfoot 7H, in October in Belmont County and has two rigs drilling for it there where it estimates it has 753 gross, 233 net, prospective well locations. Bigfoot encountered bottomhole pressure of 8,800 psi (nearly 0.7 psi per foot) and had to be plugged, however. Rice plans to drill an adjacent horizontal with a new plan to handle the reservoir pressure.

Proved reserves as of Sept. 30 were 552 Bcf, all in southwestern Pennsylvania. Plans are to invest $1.1 billion, consisting of $299 million in the Marcellus, $132 million in the Utica, $386 million in further acreage acquisitions and $263 million on take-away infrastructure.

In December, coal operator Alpha Natural Resources Inc. agreed to sell to Rice its 50% interest in a Marcellus joint venture for $100 million in cash and $200 million in stock. In October, Rice and Gulfport Energy Corp. agreed to jointly develop some 50,000 net acres over Utica in Belmont County with Rice as operator of acreage in the northern area of the deal (27,000 net acres) and Gulfport as operator in the south (23,000 net acres).

The company plans to use IPO proceeds to pay $240 million of bank debt and the $100 million to Alpha; the balance will be used for capex. NGP plans to sell some of its interest.

Other members of management include Grayson Lisenby, chief financial officer formerly with NGP and investment-banking firm Barclays Capital Inc.; Ryan Kanto, vice president, production, formerly with Encana Corp.; John LaVelle, vice president, drilling, formerly president of Geological Engineering Services Inc.; and Varun Mishra, vice president, completions, formerly with EOG Resources Inc.

Lead underwriters are Barclays Capital Inc., Citigroup Global Markets Inc. and Goldman, Sachs & Co.

Additional underwriters are BMO Capital Markets Corp.; Capital One Securities Inc.; Comerica Securities Inc.; FBR Capital Markets & Co.; Johnson Rice and Co. LLC; RBC Capital Markets LLC; Scotia Capital Markets; Sterne, Agee and Leach Inc.; SunTrust Robinson Humphrey Inc.; Tudor, Pickering, Holt; and Wells Fargo Securities LLC.

–Nissa Darbonne, Editor-at-Large, Oil and Gas Investor,, Oil and Gas Investor This Week, A&D Watch,, Contact Nissa at