UPDATE: Ultra 'not soliciting' offers ... but will 'entertain' them

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We received a message sent to an open-space supporter by an Ultra Petroleum vice president, Doug Selvius, who provided the following points to clarify the company's position:

- Ultra is not actively trying to sell the ranch
- We are not soliciting offers for the ranch
- Ultra has not retained a broker and has no immediate plans to do so
- We have received a lot of interest and inquiries about our selling the ranch
- We will entertain offers that are submitted to us — preferably for the entire ranch
- To warrant consideration, such offers will need to afford us a decent profit on our $20 million investment

—————————————POSTED THURSDAY, JUNE 6, 3:13 P.M.———————————————

This just in from Kelly Whitely, Ultra Petroleum's director of investor relations:

At this time, Ultra hasn't made a formal decision to sell the Banning Lewis Ranch. As you recall, earlier this year we suspended our exploration efforts in El Paso County since they were unsuccessful. However, another exploration company recently initiated exploration drilling in northeastern El Paso County. We will be interested to learn what transpires from their exploratory drilling efforts. We have started to receive inquiries from interested buyers and are open to looking at reasonable offers in whole or in part. But at the end of the day, we really haven't made the decision to sell the Banning Lewis Ranch.

———POSTED THURS., JUNE 6, 12:39 P.M.———

Ultra Petroleum, Hilcorp Energy, Banning Lewis Ranch
  • Pam Zubeck
  • The cycle of life for the Banning Lewis Ranch property: Buy, nothing happens, sell.

Ultra Petroleum, a Canadian company based in Houston, isn't wasting any time off-loading an albatross from its portfolio, now that test drilling near the Banning Lewis Ranch property has showed oil and gas reserves there aren't commercial viable.

Tom Wilson, a company representative, told Diana May, El Paso County's local government designee in oil and gas matters, that Ultra will sell the 18,500 acres it bought in spring 2011.

Ultra had hoped the Niobrara shale, a productive play that underlies a good part of northern Colorado, would reach its property on the east side of Colorado Springs. But testing shows that it peters out here. Hilcorp Energy Corp., also of Houston, recently came up empty in its testing as well, May has said.

May says via e-mail that when she asked Ultra's Wilson about the sale, he replied, "Yes, it's up for sale in whole or parts." But it's not listed yet, he told her.

This should tickle some people pink, notably developers and open-space advocates.

Mayor Steve Bach
, who in his previous life was a commercial real estate broker, may be salivating over that property. He's expressed interest in the city being a player of some kind, but, hasn't shared his thoughts directly with the public.

Meantime, we've asked the city what will become of the lawsuit in which the city was embroiled with Ultra over the annexation agreement for the property. The city hired Hogan Lovells law firm to work on the bankruptcy case, agreeing to pay up to $250,000.

We've asked the city if the case now will be dismissed, and how much has been spent to date. If and when we hear anything, we'll circle back.

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