By Business First of Columbus

Hess Corp. and Consol Energy have put the finishing touches on a joint development agreement to split up exploratory drilling in the Utica natural gas field in Ohio.

New York-based Hess (NYSE:HES) is paying $594 million to acquire a 50 percent interest in about 200,000 acres in the Utica shale field, including about $60 million paid at closing for the joint development agreement, effective Aug. 1, the companies reported.

Hess will tap 80,000 acres in Belmont, Guernsey, Harrison and Jefferson counties, while Pittsburgh-based Consol (NYSE:CNX) drills on 120,000 acres in Mahoning, Noble, Portage and Tuscarawas counties. The companies are seeking oil and natural gas deposits in the Utica shale formation that stretches from Canada south into Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York.

Hess last month also bought land holdings totaling about 85,000 acres in eastern Ohio for $750 million.

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