Rice Energy Inc.’s (NYSE: RICE) days may be numbered thanks to a pending merger, but the company is “going out swinging,” an analyst observed.

Despite being under the shadow of EQT Corp.’s (NYSE: EQT) $8.2 billion acquisition of Rice, the company is continuing to made deals.

On Aug. 2, Rice said it will sell 36,000 net producing acres in the Barnett Shale for $175 million. The company said it had also made a second transaction to purchase additional Marcellus Shale acreage.

That’s a “lot of moving and shaking for a company set to be acquired by EQT in the fourth quarter,” said Brian Velie, an analyst at Capital One Securities.

Rice bought its Barnett assets as part of the company’s September 2017 acquisition of Vantage Energy LLC for $2.7 billion. At the time, analysts downplayed the value of the Barnett, with some even saying the acreage was essentially worthless.

However, the assets included average production of 76 million cubic feet equivalent of natural gas per day (MMcfe/d). The production constituted less than 6% of the company’s total volumes of 1,354 MMcfe/d in second–quarter 2017. The buyer was not disclosed.

The Barnett Shale divestiture comprises 36,357 net acres primarily located in Wise, Denton and Tarrant counties in Texas, according to BMO Capital Markets, which served as Rice Energy’s financial adviser on the Barnett sale. Proceeds will be used for general corporate purposes.

The company offered little commentary on the sale, saying that because of its pending merger with EQT it has discontinued providing guidance and long-term outlook information.

The Rice assets sold for about $2,300 per MMcfe/d, said Gordon Douthat, a senior analyst at Wells Fargo Securities.

Subsequent to the end of the second quarter, Rice also said it executed another deal to buy Marcellus Shale acreage for $180 million. Rice said it has completed the acquisition of 16,500 net acres, which the company said was “core” acreage in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The seller was not disclosed.


Douthat said Rice purchased the position for about $11,000 per acre.

The company said the acquisition is highly complementary to Rice’s existing position. The acquired Greene County acreage was automatically dedicated to Rice’s midstream assets.

Darren Barbee can be reached at dbarbee@hartenergy.com.