Houston-based Gastar Exploration (AMEX:GST) ticked higher Wednesday after announcing its joint venture with Korean investment firm Atinum Marcellus in a transaction valued at $70 million.
Gastar will initially assign Atinum a 21.43% stake in all of its existing Marcellus Shale assets in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, approximately 34,200 acres, as well as some shallow conventional wells.
Under the terms of the deal, Atinum will pay Gastar $30 million in cash upon closing and an additional $40 million in the form of a drilling carry.
After everything is funded, Atinum will own a 50% interest in the Marcellus Shale rights, which are currently owned by Gastar.
The American exploration company will continue to serve as operator of all its interests in the venture.
Both companies are seeking to drill one horizontal Marcellus Shale during the remainder of this year and a minimum of 12 horizontal wells next year and 24 in each of the following two years.
Gastar CEO J. Russell Porter said the company is “pleased” with the transaction, noting it will allow Gastar to “accelerate development” of its Marcellus Shale assets while maintaining a “low level” of leverage and “high degree” of financial flexibility.
Proceeds from the deal may be used to fund Gastar’s Marcellus Shale development plans, future drilling and development of its East Texas asset, lease or property acquisition opportunities, and potential debt reduction.
The deal, expected to close within 30 to 45 days, is subject to required approvals from government agencies in the Republic of Korea and other customary conditions.
The transaction marks Atinum Partners’, the parent company of Atinum Marcellus, third investment in the US energy sector in the past 12 months, as it continues its plan to expand via new growth opportunities.