Enervest

From the Canton Rep

EnerVest expects to have 100,000 acres of its Utica shale holdings sold before the year ends.

But the company — Ohio’s leading oil and natural-gas company with offices in Suffield Township — plans to remain active in Eastern Ohio’s growing oil field.

EnerVest announced plans to sell some of its Utica acreage several weeks ago. The company closed a bidding process for Utica acreage in October.

Company executives had a few comments about the pending deal Friday during a review of third-quarter earnings for EV Energy Partners, a company affiliated with EnerVest.

John Walker, EnerVest president and chief executive officer and EV Energy’s executive chairman, said the company is looking at several bids. The plan is to sell access to drill in the Utica shale formation that lies under Eastern Ohio, but EnerVest will keep the mineral rights for the Clinton and Knox formations here.

Walker declined to discuss how much money EnerVest hopes to generate through the sale. Because of the pending sale, he also declined to discuss production levels of the company’s Utica wells, including wells in Marlboro and Bethlehem townships.

Walker did tell stock analysts that EnerVest’s package of Utica acreage has drawn more interest than any other shale deal handled by the investment banker handling the sale.

Oil and natural-gas companies began exploring the Utica shale in 2010 after determining that horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing might generate natural gas and oil. During the past two years companies have become confident that the shale formation is rich in liquid natural gas and oil.

EnerVest established itself as one of Ohio’s largest oil companies by purchasing assets of Range Resources, Belden & Blake and other producers that have been drilling an area called the East Canton oil field. EnerVest has 1,900 wells in Stark County and 8,700 wells around Ohio, but nearly all are traditional vertical wells into non-shale formations.

Interest in the Utica shale also has led to development of facilities to collect and process the natural-gas liquids and dry gas being produced.

EnerVest is a partner in two of those operations, including the Utica East Ohio facility being built east of Kensington. EnerVest has struck a deal to increase its interest in the processing center.

Walker said Utica shale development has been slowed as drilling companies wait for processing centers to open. That should change next year as more facilities — including Utica East Ohio — begin operating,

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