REUTERS - Independent oil and gas company Atlas Energy Inc said it would buy 42,344 acres in the gas-rich Marcellus shale along with Indian energy giant Reliance Industries, weeks after the two announced a joint venture.
The companies will buy the acreage in Fayette, Washington, Indiana, Westmoreland, Armstrong and Clarion Counties of Pennsylvania at an average price of $4,532 per acre.
Earlier this month, Reliance said it would pay Atlas $1.7 billion, or $14,000 an acre, to buy a 40 percent stake in Atlas's operations in the Marcellus shale.
The booming Marcellus shale -- a gas project which according to some geologists could hold enough natural gas to satisfy U.S. demand for a decade -- has been attracting companies' attention for the last few years.
Following Wednesday's deal, the Atlas-Reliance joint venture will control about 343,000 Marcellus Shale acres, of which about 206,000 acres are net to Atlas.
Atlas said it would be able to drill over 450 horizontal wells on the latest acquired acreage, adding that it intends to develop a large percentage of the acreage in the next five years.
Atlas shares were unchanged at $36.08 in post-market trade Wednesday on Nasdaq.
Reporting by Adveith Nair in Bangalore; Editing by Ratul Ray Chaudhuri