UPDATE 4-EQT to create biggest U.S. natgas producer with $6.7 bln Rice deal
* Deal would create biggest U.S. natural gas producer
* Merging adjacent land aids longer lateral drilling
* Reduced drilling costs important as gas prices subdued
* EQT's $27.04 offer represents 37.3 pct premium
* Deal expected to close in Q4 2017 (New throughout, adds new EQT filing, details and background)
By Yashaswini Swamynathan and Arathy S Nair
June 19 (Reuters) - EQT Corp was set to leapfrog Exxon Mobil as the largest U.S. natural gas producer after saying on Monday it agreed to a deal to buy fellow Appalachian gas and oil firm Rice Energy for $6.7 billion.
The tie-up would join two of the largest players in the Marcellus and Utica Shale formations, which stretch across much of Pennsylvania and Ohio and are ideally situated to supply gas throughout the U.S. Northeast.
Rice Energy also provides technological expertise to EQT, which has operated in the Marcellus since 2009. Continued...