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Aug 11 (Reuters) - Chesapeake Energy Corp (CHK.O) agreed to buy Louisiana natural gas rival Vine Energy Inc (VEI.N) for $615 million, betting on the shale field's proximity to the U.S. Gulf Coast export hub.

Dealmaking in the oil and gas sector has jumped this year as prices rebounded due to the vaccine-driven economic recovery. U.S. oil futures were up about 1.44% on Wednesday at $69.27 a barrel, an increase of about 63% from year-ago levels.

Shale operators have been pitching scale as a way to cut costs, with top gas producer EQT Corp (EQT.N) recently agreeing to buy Appalachian rival Alta Resources for $2.93 billion and Southwestern Energy Co (SWN.N) purchasing privately held Indigo Natural Resources for about $2.7 billion.

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