PetroQuest, Midstates Petroleum reach exploration deal in central La.

Two Gulf Coast oil and gas companies with large footprints in south Louisiana are partnering in a $24 million deal to drill some of the state's oldest oilfields. The companies plan to use new drilling technology to tap oil and gas reserves they say larger companies left behind decades ago.

Lafayette-based PetroQuest Energy Inc. said on Monday (June 30) it has agreed to pay $10 million in cash upfront and $14 million in future drilling costs to acquire half of the interests in one of Midstates Petroleum Co.'s drilling projects in central Louisiana.

The project, known as Fleetwood, spans about 30,000 acres total in an area west of Baton Rouge.

Houston-based Midstates Petroleum has been using new horizontal drilling and fracking technology to revive oil production at Louisiana fields discovered in the 1940s and 1950s. The company started researching the Fleetwood area as a potential project in 2012.

Midstates has since identified 12 possible new well sites and estimates the area could hold up to 300 million barrels of recoverable oil and gas reserves.

In a statement, PetroQuest President and CEO Charles T. Goodson said the deal is an opportunity for the two companies to combine their knowledge of the area and their drilling expertise.

PetroQuest has onshore drilling projects in south Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma, as well as offshore projects in the Gulf of Mexico off the Louisiana coast.

Under the deal, PetroQuest will take over as operator of the Fleetwood site.

The companies expect to drill two exploration wells during the last half of this year, with additional drilling in 2015.

Midstates President and CEO Peter Hill said the company has been itching to explore the Fleetwood area, but has concentrated much of its capital on its prospects in Oklahoma and southern Kansas.

The PetroQuest partnership "is an important next step in our effort to unlock the value we believe exists in the area," Hill said.

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