* Buys 70,000 acres in Marcellus formation
* Current production from new area at 5,000 boe per day
* Aims for 200,000 boe per day from Marcellus by 2020
OSLO, Dec 19 Norwegian energy firm Statoil bought the rights to about 70,000 acres of shale-producing area in the United States on Wednesday as part of a plan to increase its North American production by five times by 2020.
Statoil paid a total consideration of $590 million for the liquid-rich shale area in the Marcellus formation in Ohio and West Virginia, it said in a statement.
Statoil entered the Marcellus in 2008 through a partnership with Chesapeake Energy and has been steadily increasing its acreage through acquisitions.
"A majority of the net acres in this transaction are located in the liquid-rich part of the Marcellus," Statoil said in a statement. "The market for these products is substantially better paying than the current market for dry gas in the U.S."
The new area has a risked resource base estimated at 300 million to 500 million barrels of oil equivalent (boe), and its current equity production is around 5,000 boe per day.
Statoil earlier said that it aimed to increase its production from Marcellus to at least 50,000 boe per day in 2012 and at least 200,000 boe per day after 2020.
That is part of its wider plan to increase North American production to 500,000 boe per day by 2020 from less than 100,000 in 2011, with around 300,000 of that coming from onshore operations, primarily shale formations.
The firm also has share acreage in the Eagle Ford, Bakken and Three Forks formations.