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US producer Marathon Oil has agreed to shell out $3 billion in cash for privately held Eagle Ford operator Ensign Natural Resources. The deal will more than double Marathon’s footprint in the Eagle Ford Shale from 130,000 net acres to nearly 300,000, and add 67,000 boe/d in production. Marathon said that it produced 90,000 boe/d in the Eagle Ford in the third quarter, two-thirds of which was crude oil. Ensign's assets lie across the condensate, wet gas and dry gas windows of the Eagle Ford and are near Marathon’s existing position. Operators have faced pressure from investors to stem growth and maintain capital discipline even as commodity prices have ascended to multiyear highs. Deals like Marathon’s acquisition of Ensign allow them to grow production without adding rigs or frack crews, which have become more costly as inflation soars. The transaction, which is expected to close by the end of the year, would also add to Marathon's drilling inventory. By Marathon's estimates, Ensign's acreage holds around 600 undrilled locations, representing about 15 years of drilling inventory.

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