Royal Dutch Shell is the latest petroleum giant to increase its holdings in natural gas. Today the company announced that it would pay $4.7 billion cash to buy privately held East Resources Inc.

According to Shell's press release, East Resources Inc. owns 1.05 million net acres, mainly in the Appalachian basin and is one of the largest Marcellus shale acreage holders.

According to the East Resources Inc. webpage, the company's operations include more than 2,500 producing oil and gas wells and more than 1,000 miles of gas gathering systems and gas processing facilities.

In the Rockies, East has in excess of 100,000 net acres. In Wyoming, East Resources has operations in Sweetwater and Goshen counties. Shell already has holdings in Wyoming's Pinedale Anticline, and success there let it to add gas positions in Texas, Louisiana and Western Canada.

Last year, Shell increased its North American tight gas production 62 percent over 2008 levels, and the company predicts that production could reach more than 400,000 boe/d (barrels of oil equivalent/day), subject to annual investment rates.

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