Energy / Hydraulic Fracturing

Utica shale prospects dim amid disapponting lease offers

Neal Dingmann, analyst, Sun Trust Robinson Humphrey

CHICAGO, IL — “Chesapeake Energy Corp. (CHK) and other oil and natural-gas explorers in Ohio’s Utica Shale may have a tougher time raising drilling cash from joint ventures as investors trim offerings for stakes in undrilled fields.

PDC Energy Corp. didn’t receive a high enough bid from would-be joint-venture partners for an interest in its Utica holdings and will develop the acreage on its own, the Denver- based company said today in a statement.

PDC’s failure bodes ill for Chesapeake, the U.S. gas producer that’s searching for a joint-venture partner for its Utica assets, touted as a discovery to rival the Eagle Ford Shale in Texas. Chesapeake won’t get anything close to the $15,000 an acre Total S.A. (FP) paid last year for a stake in some of its Utica fields, said Neal Dingmann, an analyst at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey Inc.

‘The numbers are going the wrong way,’ Mark Hanson, an analyst at Morningstar Investment Services in Chicago, said in a telephone interview today.”

— Joe Carroll, Bloomberg News

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