HOUSTON, Jan. 28, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Eagle Rock Energy Partners, L.P. (Nasdaq:EROC) ("Eagle Rock" or the "Partnership") today declared a cash distribution for the quarter ended December 31, 2012 of $0.22 per common unit, equivalent to $0.88 per unit on an annualized basis. This distribution is equal to the distribution paid for the third quarter 2012 and represents a 5% increase from the distribution paid for the fourth quarter of 2011. The distribution will be paid on Thursday, February 14, 2013 to unitholders of record as of the close of business on Thursday, February 7, 2013. Operational Update Acquisition of BP's Texas Panhandle Midstream Assets - Integration Eagle Rock closed on the acquisition of BP's Texas Panhandle midstream assets (the "BP Acquisition") on October 1, 2012 and, following the negotiated transition services period, Eagle Rock took over operations, marketing and commercial activities on January 1, 2013. Since the closing, the Partnership has hired 78 former BP employees in the Texas Panhandle and integrated these personnel into Eagle Rock's existing organizational structure, including in a number of key leadership roles. Eagle Rock has begun construction on the proposed gathering system interconnects and is securing the materials and necessary right-of-ways to complete these projects. "We are pleased with our progress to date on integrating the acquired assets with our Panhandle system," said Joseph A. Mills, Eagle Rock's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "In addition, we are very impressed with the former BP employees who have joined our team – their experience and knowledge will contribute to the expedited integration of the acquired assets and enhance our operational capabilities and synergies across the Texas Panhandle." Completion of First Phase of SO 2 Recovery Project at Big Escambia Creek Processing Facility The Partnership, through its subsidiaries, has successfully completed the first phase of the emission reduction project at its Big Escambia Creek (BEC) processing facility in Southern Alabama. The project was initiated in December of 2011 to comply with the required step-down in sulfur dioxide emissions under the existing environmental permit. The project involved adding a Superclaus reactor to the existing sulfur recovery unit to achieve the desired reduction in SO 2 emissions. The new unit started up on December 17, 2012, and has resulted in increased sulfur recovery and reductions in SO 2 emissions to levels well below the current permitted levels. The second and final phase of the project involves potential upgrades of the existing sulfur recovery unit to further improve sulfur recoveries and further reduce SO 2 emissions. Upon completion, currently estimated to be in 2015, Eagle Rock expects to recognize operational cost savings and improve the overall reliability of the BEC facility in addition to recovering more of the marketable elemental sulfur from the well stream. Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2012 Earnings Release Date and Conference Call Information The Partnership also announced today it will report fourth quarter and full year 2012 financial and operating results after market close on Monday, February 25, 2013. The fourth quarter and full year 2012 earnings conference call will be held at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time (1:00 p.m. Central Time) on Tuesday, February 26, 2013.