Chesapeake: My Rig’s Better than Your Rig, Cuts Capex Another 20%

My Dog's Bigger than Your DogThe executives at Chesapeake are channeling the boastful ghost of Aubrey McClendon. Yesterday Chesapeake released its 2014 Outlook and capital program. The big news is they will spend 20% less on drilling and related activities this year. The Utica Shale remains one of the most important plays in their portfolio. Apparently in an attempt to dress up the 20% decrease in spending as a good thing, unnamed Chesapeake executives made this boast: “Chesapeake said it expects to operate seven to nine drilling rigs in its Utica shale properties this year, saying that is the equivalent of a 20-rig operation by competitors.” Which made us laugh out loud. “Hey, our 7-9 rigs are worth 20 of anybody else’s.” OK. Must be nice to have an inside track on how to repeal the laws of physics over at Chessy HQ. Maybe they should patent it! Anywho…

Below is the Chesapeake announcement from yesterday with some fairly detailed information about where they plan to drill in 2014, and how much they think they’ll produce. Liquids (NGLs in the Utica, oil in other plays) are a big focus for Chessy this year. There’s a lot more money in liquids–and boss man Carl Icahn likes that. Below the Chesapeake announcement is a bit of analysis from the Akron Beacon Journal, from which we took the “our rigs are better than your rigs” quote…
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NPGA Asks FERC to Reverse Flow of ATEX Pipeline & Pump Propane

There is a serious, some would say “dangerous” shortage of propane in the northeast, for a number of reasons. The ongoing, brutally cold winter is partially to blame (oh global warming, where are thou? we need thee now!). In what appears to MDN to be a case of sour grapes, the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA), representing some 3,200 propane companies, has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to force the brand new Appalachia to Texas (ATEX) pipeline to quite pumping ethane from the Utica/Marcellus to Gulf Coast and instead reverse the flow and pump propane from the Gulf to the northeast citing the propane shortage as the reason.

Well, it is an emergency, right? Why do we say sour grapes? Because part of the newly online ATEX was an existing pipeline that used to flow south to north and carry (you guessed it)–propane. The NPGA and its members opposed losing that capacity and challenged Enterprise Product Partners, the builder of the ATEX, in court. They lost. So it appears they’re using the current “crisis,” which is partially brought on by high demand from the cold and partially lack of storage capacity, which is the fault of NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo, as an excuse to get the pipeline turned around, at least for a period of time…
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PA Dems, DRBC Squeal over Proposed Cut to DRBC Budget

The Delaware River Basin Commission suckling pig is about to have less slop in the trough to gorge itself on, thanks to wise oversight by PA Gov. Tom Corbett. The DRBC, for those who don’t know, is an interstate quasi-governmental agency made up of the states that are in the Delaware River Basin, including Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey (where HQ for the DRBC is located) and Delaware. The governors for each of those states plus a representative from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers make up the voting board of the DRBC.

For years PA has borne the brunt of the funding for the DRBC–disproportionately–lavishing the DRBC staff with buckets of cash with which they supposedly do their jobs. PA has had enough. Time for the other states that profess to love the DRBC so much to pull their own weight, so Corbett has decreased the amount of money PA will contribute to the trough. And that has the pigs squealing, including Corbetts potential Democrat opponents for the governor’s chair and (not surprisingly) DRBC staffers who have gone apoplectic with dire warnings…
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Marcellus Prejudice on Display at Washington, PA Church

This is interesting, and sad, and maddening: A developer purchased a run-down, abandoned convent in downtown Washington, PA (for $11K) with plans to invest $300,000 to fix it up and put business offices in it. Or perhaps (this is the rumor) turn it into temporary housing for Marcellus Shale workers. That “M” word–that’s all it took. The pastor at the church across the street, Immaculate Conception, is against it. So too is the local town councilman. Their fear? Those disgusting, low-life “transient” workers will (don’t laugh) bring down the neighborhood. It won’t be safe to (don’t laugh) walk around at night. Because, you know, (whispering)…transients. Better to keep the old convent, a bombed-out looking eyesore, in downtown rather than have transients lurking about.

Now if the developer was wise he would have said something about housing “undocumented workers” (i.e. illegal aliens) at the convent. That would magically make the project A-OK. Here’s the interesting/sad/maddening story:
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Marcellus Well Freeze-Offs Lower January Natgas Production

Wells freezing from the brutally cold winter in the northeast has led to a slight decrease in the amount of gas production coming from the Marcellus, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration and analysis by Bentek Energy (a division of Platts). Official numbers for January production from the EIA won’t be out until the end of March, but preliminary numbers indicate the cold weather is having an impact on supplies…
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CONSOL Proved Reserves Up 44%, Marcellus the Key

MDN has reported this week on a flurry of proved and unproved reserves announcements. Range and Antero have proved reserves in the trillions of cubic feet, Rex Energy in the billions. Yesterday CONSOL Energy weighed in (me too! me too!) with their numbers. The CONSOL announcement, however, is a bit more interesting and enlightening than some of the others. They break it down by shale play/type of play and also run some EURs–Estimated Ultimate Recovery numbers for just how much they believe they’ll end up getting from all that drilling.

Here’s the interesting CONSOL announcement from yesterday about proved (and unproved) reserves and EURs, and the key role the Marcellus plays in the company’s future:
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National Fuel Spends 2/3 of Capex Budget on Drilling, Mostly Marcellus

National Fuel Gas company is a big, diversified company. They own operations in all three segments of the oil and gas business: upstream (their subsidiary Seneca Resources is a big Marcellus driller), midstream (gathering and storage pipelines in PA), and downstream (utility company in the Buffalo, NY area). So they really “do it all.” Yesterday, in the ongoing parade of 4Q13 updates, National Fuel issued theirs–only everyone else’s 4Q is actually National Fuel Gas’ 1Q14. Regardless, it covers the last four months of 2013, no matter what you call it. And what does it show?

It shows that National Fuel Gas via its Seneca Resources division continues to be the main focus of the company. They spent 2/3 of their capital budget on exploration and production in 2013–and the lion’s share of that in the Marcellus. Here’s the narrative part of the update issued yesterday:
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Noble Energy: More Marcellus Drilling Ahead in 2014

Noble Energy, one of the larger Marcellus Shale drillers (with 360,000 acres under lease) released their fourth quarter and full year 2013 results yesterday. The company reports producing 196 million cubic feet of gas per day on average, a 17% increase over 3Q13 and a big 61% increase over 4Q12. By December 31st they were producing 210 Mmcf/d. Noble is a big company with both on- and off-shore drilling operations around the world. The Marcellus continues to play in increasingly important role in their portfolio for 2014, as evidenced by the update and by comments made by Noble executives yesterday.

Below are extracts from yesterday’s Noble update and the analyst conference call with company execs. We’ve selected out portions dealing with the Marcellus so you don’t have to wade through it all…
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3 Cheers for Groups Standing Up to Obama “Climate Change” Agenda

When Barack Obama can’t convince his political opponents (or the American people) that his skewed views on an issue are the correct views for the country, he does what any good fascist does–he simply starts writing executive orders, bypassing the U.S. Constitution that grants lawmaking powers solely to Congress. He simply seizes power for himself. Dictators the world over have done the same thing for millennia. It’s still relatively new here in the U.S. where citizens used to have (gasp) individual freedom from oppression by their government. It seems that’s something in our past.

MDN is not the only lone outpost to recognize the dangerous road we’re now on, and not the only lone outpost to recognize that for all of his platitudes about natural gas and “all of the above,” Obama’s talk is just that–cheap talk. He doesn’t mean it because his actions (via the EPA and other agencies that frequently overstep their bounds) contradict his words. Actions always speak louder than words. A small glimmer of hope has appeared. A number of business organizations–76 in all, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the American Gas Association–have banded together to oppose Obama’s planned power grab on the faux issue of “climate change.” They recognize they and their members are in the crosshairs of this administration and they’re not going down without a fight…
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Phelim’s Journey of Truth in Europe – FrackNation in Parliament!

MDN friend and masterful documentarian Phelim McAleer, who single-handedly debunked the outrageous lies and distortions in Josh Fox’s Gasland fictions, is taking his FrackNation documentary on the road for screenings in Europe. On the roadshow list are the UK Parliament (in London of course), the European Parliament (in Belgium) and in Warsaw, Poland. Looks like Dimock, PA will be famous around the world–for the right reasons!

Our best to Phelim on his journey of truth in Europe…
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