Gas driller buys about 5,000 acres

Chief Oil & Gas recently announced a lease acquisition of about 5,000 acres in Lycoming, Bradford and Sullivan Counties. The purchase is part of the producer’s multi-phased growth plan in the Marcellus Shale region, according to Sam Fragale, Senior vice president of Appalachia for Chief.

“We’re looking to expand our lease position in the Northeast (PA) region…through acquisitions and also through the drill bit,” Fragale said.

Citing “extremely” pleasing Marcellus production results, the company plans to ramp up its drilling activities in 2014, according to Fragale.

Chief currently operates four drilling rigs in the northeastern region of the state but “may be looking (to add) one to two additional rigs” in 2014, according to Chief Public Affairs Director Daria Fish. Those rigs are not likely to be running in Lycoming County, according to Fish.

“There’s some acreage in Northeast Lycoming County that’s part of this acquisition but it takes months to do the permitting process,” Fish said. Chief’s development activity in the county is not likely to increase in 2014 “but that’s subject to change,” according to Fish.

Chief has more than 135,000 acres under lease in Bradford, Sullivan, Susquehanna and Wyoming counties. The new lease acquisition is “contiguous to acreage we already have,” according to Fragale.

“We will be hiring several more people to take care of the increased work load with regard to the acquisition,” Fragale said.

While some operators, such as Chesapeake Energy, have dumped their Marcellus acreage, Chief is “actively pursuing additional leases in the region,” according to Fragale.

“At this time, with gas prices, we think it’s a good time to expand our position for the long-term,” Fragale said.