U.S. Markets closed

Ahead of the Bell: Gastar Exploration

HOUSTON (AP) -- Shares of Gastar Exploration Ltd. rose before Wednesday's opening bell after the exploration and production company announced plans to sell its interests in about 76,000 net acres in Oklahoma to a third party for about $62 million in cash.

The deal, which is expected to close midway through the third quarter, also provides for the trading of certain acreage between Gastar and the third party to create more concentrated acreage blocks for both parties, the Houston company said.

The acres to be sold are part of the undeveloped leases acquired by Gastar last month from Chesapeake Energy Corp. that included drilling rights on about 157,000 net acres in Oklahoma, along with about 2.8 million barrels of oil equivalent of proved developed producing reserves.

Gastar said the sale allows it to monetize its non-core acreage in Oklahoma at an attractive price.

Gastar also said that its partner in its original area of mutual interest in Oklahoma has chosen to exercise its rights and buy about 12,820 net acres that Gastar acquired from Chesapeake for $12.1 million.

That purchase includes about 400,000 barrels of oil equivalent representing half of the proved developed producing reserves related to the wells acquired from Chesapeake that are located inside the existing area of mutual interest, the company said.

Gastar shares rose 13 cents, or 5 percent, to $2.87 in premarket trading.