August 20, 2010 / 6:47 AM / 9 years ago

Three U.S. shale gas firms up for sale: report

(Reuters) - Three privately owned U.S. natural gas operators, potentially worth a combined $5.5 billion, are up for sale and looking to tap into major energy companies’ demand for shale gas, the Wall Street Journal said.

Dallas-based Chief Oil & Gas, an active operator in the Marcellus Shale on the East Coast, is on the block, and could be snapped up for up to $3 billion, people familiar with the matter told the Journal.

Founded in 1994, privately held Chief Oil is engaged in the exploration, development and production of oil and natural gas reserves in several fields in the Appalachian Basin, northern Texas, and Central Utah, its website said.

Dallas-based Talon Oil & Gas LLC, which is backed by private-equity firm EnCap Investments LP, is also seeking buyers, the daily said.

Talon, with operations in three Texas regions, could go for between $1 billion and $1.5 billion, it added.

While Denver-based Anschutz Exploration Corp, with assets in the Bakken shale, could fetch about $1 billion, one person familiar with the matter told Wall Street Journal.

Operations of these companies are limited by their size and are leading them to explore a sale to a larger player, the paper said.

Shale gas is forming a growing part of U.S. domestic energy production, and that demand has driven a number of large deals as leading global players compete to snap up reserves.

Reporting by Archana Shankar in Bangalore; editing by Simon Jessop

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