EV Energy land sales not expected until 2013

Houston-based EV Energy Partners has received purchase offers for some of its land assets, but the company won’t complete any deals before the end of the year, the company said Monday.

EV Energy Partners, a publicly traded company managed and part-owned by subsidiaries of EnerVest, has grown its oil and gas production numbers in recent years, but announced in early 2012 that it would sell some land holdings in the Utica shale play.

EV Energy Partners, along with EnerVest, has put drilling rights covering a combined total of about 300,000 acres in the Utica up for sale.

The Utica stretches from New York, through Pennsylvania and into Ohio and West Virginia. It  has drawn interest from other oil and gas companies because of its potential to produce more liquid hydrocarbons, like oil and natural gas liquids, than other plays that generate high quantities of cheap natural gas.

Natural gas producer Chesapeake Energy Corp. has highlighted the area as a potential growth opportunity to help the company generate more oil and liquids as it tries to move away from gas production.

Michael Mercer, a spokesman for EV Energy Partners, would not elaborate on the progress of sales negotiations or general interest in the Utica play, but he said the acreage didn’t match the company’s strategy.

“It’s an exploratory shale position and our focus is more on managing more mature producing oil and gas properties,” Mercer said.

The company had aimed to complete sales by the end of 2012.

EV Energy Partners, in a statement, said it had received “bona fide offers” for the Utica positions up for sale.

The company and EnerVest have a combined position of more than 700,000 acres in Utica drilling leases.

Other areas of the companies’ Utica holdings that are not up for sale are being produced by other operators in joint ventures, including one involving Chesapeake and Total.

EV Energy Partners in 2011 produced the equivalent of 49.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas, a 47 percent increase from 2010. The company has increased production in each quarter this year, mainly through acquisitions. About 71 percent of the company’s total production in 2011 was from natural gas.

The company’s net income was $102 million in 2011, down from $106 million the year before.