Statoil officially an Eagle Ford operator

A Talisman Energy hydraulic fracturing site near Cotulla. (Photo: JOHN DAVENPORT/SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS)

A Talisman Energy hydraulic fracturing site near Cotulla. (Photo: JOHN DAVENPORT/SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS)

The Norwegian Statoil is no stranger to the Eagle Ford Shale, but it finally is becoming an operator.

It officially will take over as operator of acreage in four South Texas counties in July.

Statoil entered the Eagle Ford Shale in 2010 through a 50-50 joint venture with Talisman Energy USA Inc.

Talisman initially managed all the drilling, but the companies agreed that Statoil ultimately would become the operator for half the acreage.

Under the split in operations, Statoil will operate mostly in Live Oak, Karnes, DeWitt and Bee counties.

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Talisman will keep operating the western acreage, mostly in McMullen, La Salle and Dimmit counties.

Statoil said joint ownership for the total acreage is not affected by the split of drilling and operations responsibilities. Reuters has reported that Talisman is looking to sell its Eagle Ford acreage and raise as much as $2 billion.

Bill Maloney, head of Statoil in North America, said the company generally is shifting away from joint ventures — which it has used as a way to learn about U.S. shale development — and into operating its own assets.

The company also entered the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania in 2008 by buying a stake in Chesapeake Energy’s acreage, and has since purchased its own acreage to operate.

“We felt we needed to be hands on,” Maloney said. “It’s nice to watch. It’s better to do.”

The company has about 52 employees and contractors in the Eagle Ford now, but expects to grow to more than 100 employees and contractors by next year.

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Statoil and Talisman have been transitioning aspects of operations for the eastern acreage for several months now, with Statoil starting to run three rigs in the field in April.

Andrea Kubik, vice president for the company’s Eagle Ford asset, said the company currently is drilling in Live Oak and Karnes counties.

The drilling is focused on where the company needs to start producing to keep its acreage, a term called “held by production.” But Kubik said that going forward, most of the acreage will be held, allowing it to drill multiple wells per site, which saves time and money.

In addition to the Eagle Ford and Marcellus, Statoil is also in the Bakken Shale in North Dakota. It has operations in 35 countries and Texas offices in Houston and Austin.

Statoil holds about 73,000 net acres in the Eagle Ford, and Maloney said the company will add more land — if it can.

“If we can get good acreage at a good price, you bet,” he said. “It’s much easier said than done in all three plays we’re in. People know where the good acreage is now. The bargains are gone”

Its share of Eagle Ford production is about 20,200 barrels of oil equivalent per day from around 300 producing wells.

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