McClendon’s American Energy Snatches Up 130,000 More Acres In Utica

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Acquired 56,000 net acres in the core of the Utica shale play.

Aubrey McClendon's American Energy Partners LP is racking up its holdings in the Utica shale.

American Energy - Utica LLC (AEU), an affiliate of American Energy Partners, announced Feb. 3 that it signed three agreements to acquire 130,000 net acres in the southern Utica shale play. McClendon founded both Oklahoma City-based companies and is their chairman and CEO.

On Jan. 29, Hess Corp. (NYSE: HES) announced the disposition of 74,000 acres in the Utica for $924 million to an undisclosed buyer. Charlie Rexford, a spokesman for American Energy, confirmed it was the purchaser, according to Bloomberg.

American Energy acquired the remaining 56,000 net acres from Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) and privately held Paloma Partners LLC. It did not disclose the amount for the purchases.

American Energy now has 260,000 net acres in the Utica, a level that is the largest in the industry. The company plans to drill 2,700 gross wells and 1,600 net wells during the next decade.

About 90% of its holdings are located in the core of the play, defined as southern Jefferson, Belmont, eastern Guernsey, Harrison, Monroe and Noble counties.

The acquisitions come after another American Energy affiliate announced raising $500 million of equity for onshore basin deals last week.

American Energy's lead equity investor is Houston-based The Energy & Minerals Group (EMG). Additional equity was provided by First Reserve Corp., AEU management and others.

EMG manages a family of funds that invest in the energy and minerals sectors and has more than $8.4 billion of assets under management. John T. Raymond, EMG's majority owner, managing partner and CEO, has more than 20 years of industry experience.

McClendon co-founded Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK) in May 1989 and built it into one of the top drilling companies until his resignation in April.

During his leadership, Chesapeake discovered the Haynesville shale, Utica shale, Powder River Niobrara shale, Tonkawa Sand and Mississippi Lime unconventional plays.