By SAM SHAWVER
MARIETTA, Ohio - Just two years after the former Triad Energy Resources in Reno was purchased by Texas-based Magnum Hunter Resources, the locally-founded oil and gas exploration company continues to grow and expand operations in the Mid-Ohio Valley area.
"We acquired Triad, a 24-year privately-owned company, out of bankruptcy in 2010 for about $81 million. Prior to purchase the company was producing around 750 equivalent barrels of oil a day, now we're producing more than 15,000 barrels," said Jim Denny, executive vice president of operations for Magnum Hunter.
Triad Energy was founded by local businessman Kean Weaver who later partnered with associate Jim Bryden to operate the company.
Weaver died in 2008, and a year later Bryden also passed away, which left Triad and about 120 employees in limbo.
In February 2010, Magnum Hunter bought the company and renamed it Triad Hunter.
"After the purchase we recognized four business units out of the original company," Denny said.
Those now include Triad Hunter energy and production; Eureka Hunter pipeline; Green Hunter Water water handling and disposal; and Alpha Hunter drilling.
"Our market cap has grown from $10 to $20 million annually to over $700 million now," Denny said, adding that all of Triad's employees have been retained as well as the company name to show its continuing identity with the community.
He said since 2010 the number of employees increased to 165, and just last week Triad Hunter entered into a purchase agreement to buy Viking International Resources Co., Inc. (Virco) for $106.7 million.
Virco's employees will also join the Magnum Hunter workforce.
"We had a job for everyone who wanted to transfer into the company," Denny said. "There were about 44 employees total."
In addition to added employees and production, Magnum Hunter is acquiring about 51,500 mineral acres in the Appalachian Basin within West Virginia and Ohio.
That acreage includes approximately 27,000 net acres in Marcellus Shale, 19,000 of which are in Ritchie County, W.Va., and 8,000 acres in Washington and Monroe counties in Ohio.
The company's Ohio properties also includes an estimated total of 38,000 Utica Shale acres.
"Our company drilled the very first two horizontal wells in Tyler County, W.Va., starting in August 2010, six months after the purchase of Triad," Denny said. "We also drilled the very first horizontal well in Monroe County, Ohio in January of 2011."
He said the company also owns mineral rights in Wetzel County, W.Va., that were purchased in early 2011 for $45 million and had a total of nine wells drilled and completed there by July 2011.
"We don't just acquire and then sit on these properties," Denny said, noting that on one of the local properties the company began operations within 48 hours of acquisition.
More wells have been drilled on the Tyler County site, and the company is continuing a joint venture with Stone Energy in Wetzel County, W.Va., where 11 wells have been drilled and cased.
More activity is planned in 2013. Denny said 12 to 14 new horizontal wells will be drilled with one new rig through 2013, and a second rig will drill another eight to 10 wells on company properties.
He said the total capital budget for next year is around $150 million.
"We've paved the way for a new area of liquids-rich Marcellus production in this area, benefiting mineral owners and other local oil and gas operators," Denny added.
In February the company will move division offices into the Chase Bank building on Putnam Street in Marietta, although the Reno facilities will remain for field workers and equipment.
Chase will still lease a portion of the building from Triad Hunter.
John Jack, manager of business development for Triad Hunter and Alpha Hunter, as well as vice president of business development for Green Hunter Water, designed the major renovation project.
"We've gutted most of every floor in the building, probably about 95 percent of this facility is being redone," he said. "This will add 13,000 square feet for the company offices."
Jack said Westfall Construction of Marietta is contractor on the project which was started two weeks ago.
Denny said the company plans to move into the new digs in mid-February.
"I didn't know Kean Weaver, but I think the current manifestation of Triad is something he would be proud of," said Terry Tamburini, executive director of the Southeastern Ohio Port Authority.
He noted that through its four units Triad is in the unique position of involvement in every phase of the shale oil and gas industry, from exploration and drilling to transportation of the oil and gas products as well as water handling and disposal.
"That's a very smart position," Tamburini said.
He added that Triad's growth also has a ripple effect throughout the local economy that benefits suppliers and related businesses.