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She Ran Calling Wildfire - Acquisitions Propel WildFire Energy to a Leading Position in the Eagle Ford

No doubt about it, most of the headline-grabbing oil and gas M&A activity lately has involved large, publicly owned producers gobbling up other good-sized E&Ps, lock, stock and barrel. But there are other ways to increase scale and improve operational efficiency, as evidenced by privately held WildFire Energy’s bolt-on acquisition frenzy in the relatively sleepy northeastern Eagle Ford, aka the East Eagle Ford. In less than three years, with one bolt-on acquisition after another, WildFire — named in anticipation of the company’s aggressive expansion strategy — has morphed from a small player in the often-overlooked area into one of the largest producers there, with a laser focus on maximizing returns to its management and private-equity owners. In today’s RBN blog, we’ll look at the E&P and its rapid rise. 

We’ve been tracking M&A in the Eagle Ford for some time now — the number of deals happening there has warranted the attention. A comprehensive list would be too long, but some of the bigger, more notable acquisitions include:

Most recently, in We Could Be So Good Together, we delved into Crescent Energy’s plan — announced in mid-May — to acquire SilverBow Resources for $2.1 billion in cash and stock to create what will likely be the third-largest operator in the Eagle Ford, with about 200 Mboe/d of pro forma production. That would put the company well behind the prospectively combined ConocoPhillips and Marathon Oil, whose production in the region would total about 380 Mb/d, and current Eagle Ford leader EOG Resources, with about 300 Mboe/d.

What all those producers and all those deals have in common is that their focus within the broadly defined Eagle Ford (yellow-shaded counties in Figure 1) is almost exclusively on the southwestern 60% of the massive shale basin — the fat swath from the Rio Grande to the counties east of San Antonio (Gonzales, Lavaca and DeWitt). That’s where the vast majority of Eagle Ford wells have been drilled and completed since the Shale Era started in earnest in the early 2010s, and where most of the basin’s production takes place. But the northeastern 40% of the Eagle Ford (area within red ovals) shouldn’t be forgotten — as we’ll get to next, that’s where privately held WildFire Energy has been rapidly accumulating acreage and production.

The Eagle Ford Shale

Figure 1. The Eagle Ford Shale. Source: RBN 

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