Houston-based Marathon seeks buyer for Eagle Ford assets

Marathon Oil Corp. (MRO), the U.S. oil and natural gas producer that spun off its refining business last year, is seeking to sell more than 96,000 net acres in the Eagle Ford formation in Texas.

The sale includes acreage in nine tracts in Karnes, Bee and Wilson counties, according to a listing on the Oil & Gas Asset Clearinghouse website. An electronic data room for the sale of 96,738 net acres opened Oct. 1 and bids are due by Oct. 25, a marketing flyer shows.

The Eagle Ford remains a “priority” for the company, Chief Operating Officer David Roberts said in prepared remarks for a conference in San Antonio today. The company sees net Eagle Ford production rising to about 120,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day by 2016, he said. Marathon has said it plans $1.5 billion to $3 billion of asset sales for 2011 through the end of 2013.

“The marketing effort is part of our normal efforts to high-grade our acreage and focus on the core,” Lee Warren, a spokeswoman for Houston-based Marathon, said in an e-mail today. “The acreage being marketed is not part of the approximately 200,000 net acres within our holdings that we consider the core of the play.”

Marathon’s strategy and production goals for the Eagle Ford are unchanged, Warren said.

The company plans to spend about $1.6 billion there annually over the next five years, Roberts said. Marathon has about 325,000 net acres in the Eagle Ford. Daily gross output is approaching the equivalent of 100,000 barrels of oil, compared with 29,000 barrels last Nov. 1, he said.

Marathon rose 1.7 percent to $29.87 at the close in New York.