A natural gas giant announced Thursday it is set to purchase the mineral rights to a half-million acres in the Appalachian Basin -- including significant acreage in parts of Chemung, Tompkins, Cortland and Cayuga counties -- from a competing company

Chesapeake Energy Corp. will pay $850 million, or about $1,700 an acre, for the rights currently held by the Denver-based Anschutz Exploration Corp., Chesapeake CEO Aubrey McClendon said in a conference call Thursday. He declined to say exactly where the acreage is located, but Anschutz announced earlier this month that it had agreed to sell the rights to the 500,000 acres it holds in New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania to an undisclosed buyer.

The deal is set to close later this month.

"We've been poking around and we saw something we liked and we bought it," McClendon said.

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