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Doug Suttles, president and CEO of Encana, addresses the company's annual meeting in Calgary, Tuesday, May 13, 2014.

Jeff McIntosh/THE CANADIAN PRESS

When Doug Suttles came in as head of Encana Corp., Eric Marsh was out soon after. But Mr. Marsh's new gig as head of the Blackstone Group-backed energy producer that just laid out $1.2-billion (U.S.) to buy the Haynesville shale assets of Royal Dutch Shell PLC raises the question of whether he could once again be running the Encana assets in that area.

Mr. Marsh was one of a number of executives who departed late last year after Mr. Suttles took over, and his profile was pretty low until Thursday, when Blackstone announced the deal. Now he is head of Vine Oil & Gas, owned by Blackstone and funds with ties to Blackstone. The Shell acreage is the first step in what Blackstone says will be the creation of a "significant, independent shale development company." Mr. Marsh says Vine wants to keep working in the region as a "partner of choice."

And who else might be looking to sell Haynesville assets? Encana, that's who. The Haynesville shale is dry gas, and Mr. Suttles is much more keen on wet gas because he believes the profitability outlook is stronger. The company said earlier this year that it had stopped drilling there, saying it is not competitive with other plays in its portfolio, and it's outside the strategic focus. Drilling is still on hold, but Encana has lately been working to refresh wells in the region by re-fracturing them to bring up production.

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So is Haynesville for sale? Not necessarily, but it's not top of mind at Encana, and Mr. Marsh certainly knows the asset well.

Encana has been in the region for years, beginning in 2005 with the first leases. In 2007 it cut a deal with Shell to share exploration there.

There's another tie: investment bank Evercore advised Blackstone and Vine on the purchase. Evercore also advised Encana on the 2014 sale of its Jonah Field operations in Wyoming to another private equity firm.

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