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Small U.S. shale firm scraps dividends as it explores all options

(Adds details on debt load, asset sales, quarterly results)

Oct 9 (Reuters) - Oil and gas producer Magnum Hunter Resources Corp, laden with debt and stung by the worst market downturn in six years, scrapped its dividends on Friday and hired a financial adviser to explore all strategic alternatives.

The company, run by Chief Executive Gary Evans, said it hired PJT Partners LP, a financial adviser known for restructuring work, and the law firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP as legal adviser.

The company said it has actively sought to fix its balance sheet by potentially selling assets and is now working to "enhance liquidity and address (its) current capital structure."

Bankruptcy lawyers consulted by Reuters predict a rash of filings among small exploration and production companies that enjoyed easy access to capital during the boom in U.S. shale oil and gas production over the last five years. Access to credit is tightening or growing more expensive, they said.

Cash-strapped Magnum Hunter, mainly a natural gas producer, operates in the Marcellus and Utica shale fields of Ohio and West Virginia.

Magnum Hunter posted a second-quarter net loss of $30.5 million on revenue of $39.9 million.

Total liabilities were $1.1 billion.

(Reporting by Manish Parashar in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel, Terry Wade and Richard Chang)