The Utica Shale formation in Ohio is sparking further acquisitions and joint-venture deals in the industry, observers say. ExxonMobil last week confirmed it is acquiring drilling rights in the play, while Gulfport Energy said it could consider a partnership for its acreage there. Chesapeake Energy is also looking to sell shares in 1.25 million eastern Ohio acres, which could establish a new price standard, analysts say.

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