Antero Resources Slashes 2015 CapEx Budget 41%, Reduces Rig Count

budget cutsEarlier this month, Antero Resources, one of the largest leaseholders and drillers in the Marcellus/Utica, announced they are laying off 250 landmen in WV, OH and PA because of low oil and gas prices (see Antero Resources Lays Off 250 Landmen, Blames Low Oil Prices). Seems it was an omen. On Tuesday, the company released details of their 2015 capital budget–and it’s not pretty. Antero is slashing their capital expenditure budget in the Marcellus/Utica by 41% over what they spent in 2014–$1.8 billion in 2015 compared to $3.05 billion in 2014. Ouch. They’ll operate an average of 14 drilling rigs in 2015 compared to the average of 21 they were operating by the end of last year. Ouch. They predict they will complete 130 Marcellus & Utica wells this year, down from 179 completed last year. Ouch. About the only bright spot is that production is predicted to increase, from an average of 1 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2014 to 1.4 Bcf/d in 2015. Why the big cuts? Yes because of the low commodity price for natural gas, but when you dig, you find the price for natgas in the northeast is lower than other areas of the country because of the lack of pipelines…
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Stone Energy Will Suspend Marcellus/Utica Drilling after 1Q15

Similar to the recent announcement by Antero Resources, Stone Energy has announced a big scale back in the Marcellus/Utica for 2015. However, whereas Antero is one of the biggest drillers in the northeast, Stone is one of the smallest drillers in the Marcellus/Utica. In 2014 Stone drilled 38 wells in the Marcellus, and a single Utica test well. The company plans to spend $450 million for drilling in 2015, down from $875 million spent in 2014–roughly half of what they spent last year. But the majority of that $450 million (75%) will go to drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and deep water. Only 8% of the budget, or $36 million, will go to the Marcellus/Utica region. Stone says after they complete a few wells in the first quarter of this year, they’re suspending all Marcellus drilling for the rest of this year–releasing the single rig that’s been operating in the Marcellus. Landowners signed with Stone–if Stone hasn’t already begun your well, you can forget about it for at least for the rest of this year…
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OH Village Gets $307K Signing Bonus, 18.25% Royaly to Lease 72 Acres

Last night, the village of New Matamoras, in Washington County, OH, was handed a check for $307,687.25. The general fund budget for all of 2014 was $121,368! The check came from MNW Energy, which is acting as the land broker for Triad Hunter (a division of Magnum Hunter Resources). The money is the up-front lease signing bonus for 72 acres of village owned-land that Triad plans to drill under. The payment amounts to a signing bonus of $4,275 per acre. When and if Triad drills, the village will get an 18.25% royalty on all gas/liquids produced. The biggest “problem” Matamoras had was how to cash the check! The next “problem” they have is how they’ll spend it. Here’s the low-down…
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PA Senate Reintroduces Two Marcellus Royalty Bills, SB 147 & 148

The “funny business” of shorting royalty checks in Pennsylvania–particularly by Chesapeake Energy–may soon come to an end. A pair of bills that didn’t make it past the House last session have been re-introduced in the Senate and both have already passed the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee unanimously. State Sen. Gene Yaw, Republican from northeast Pennsylvania, re-introduced Senate Bills (SB) 147 & 148. SB 147 allows landowners the right to review drilling company records to verify proper royalty payment. It also requires drillers to pay royalties within 90 days of production. SB 148 prohibits drillers from “retaliating” against a landowner who questions royalty payments by canceling the lease or stopping drilling activity. Both bills are embraced by the Pennsylvania chapter of the National Association of Royalty Owners (NARO)…
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Magnum Hunter Drilled 24 NE Wells in 2014, Proved Reserves Up 25%

Yesterday Magnum Hunter Resources, a growing driller in the Marcellus/Utica region, announced their “proved” reserves have jumped a healthy 25% by the end December 2014 over a year earlier. Proved reserves are defined as the estimated quantities of oil and gas which geological and engineering data demonstrate with reasonable certainty (90% or more certainty) to be recoverable in future years from known reservoirs under current economic and operating conditions. Magnum Hunter’s estimated total proved reserves increased in 2014 to 83.8 million barrels of equivalent (or MMboe), compared to 67.3 MMboe at the end of 2013. They reckon it breaks down as 70% natural gas and the rest natural gas liquids, condensate and oil. Magnum Hunter’s acreage in the Marcellus and Utica is impressive: they now own 80,000 net acres in the Marcellus and 125,000 net acres in the Utica. Last year they drilled 24 wells in the Marcellus/Utica. They have their eye on a potential future 1,000 more drilling locations in WV and OH…
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Kinder Morgan NE Projects Update – Filing with FERC for Broad Run

Kinder Morgan, the largest midstream company in the U.S., issued a press release yesterday nominally to say they’ve raised the quarterly dividend by 10% or $0.45 per share because they had a great year last year, despite the low price of oil and the gyrations in the market. But as part of that update, if you put on your hip boots on and wade through all of the tiny print, you find some interesting nuggets and updates. For example, we get an important update on their Northeast Energy Direct project–an extension of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline through Massachusetts and New Hampshire. We also learn that Kinder is ready to file with FERC–this month–to move forward with the Broad Run Flexibility and Broad Run Expansion projects that will flow Marcellus and Utica Shale gas from West Virginia to delivery points in Mississippi and Louisiana. All (100%) of the capacity for the the Broad Run pipelines is already spoken for, by Antero Resources…
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The Beast Grows Hungrier: Southwestern Ups # Shares of New Stock

We’re not sure what to make of this as we’re not high finance people. But we find it intriguing all the same. MDN reported 10 days ago that Southwestern Energy would float 20 million shares of new common stock and 26 million “depositary” shares of stock in an effort to raise a boatload of new cash (see Southwestern Energy Floats 20M New Shares of Stock). A few days later, they upped it to 26 million shares of common stock and 30 million shares of depositary stock (see Feed the Beast: Southwestern Seeks $2.34B from New Stock Offering). It seems the beast grows even hungrier. Yesterday they upped it again–this time to 30 million shares of common stock and 34.5 million shares of depositary stock. Hmmm, what does it all mean?…
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Pro-Drilling New Yorkers Protest Gov. Cuomo During State of State

You want to know how biased local liberal media can be? Get this: Yesterday, on the day that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivered his Santa Claus impersonation, er, State of the State address, more than 70 pro-drillers gathered outside the State Office Building in downtown Binghamton, NY for an hour during the middle of the work day to protest Gov. Cuomo’s decision to ban fracking. The only daily newspaper in Broome County, the local newspaper of record, the Press & Sun-Bulletin–didn’t carry a single word about the protest. Not one word. That’s how biased (and frankly censored) the Press & Sun-Bulletin is. Fortunately, three local television stations did cover the protest. The “new news” from the protest, aside from the fact that 70+ people took time out of their busy work days (yes, pro-drillers actually have jobs and pay taxes, unlike anti-drillers), is that the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York (JLCNY) is actively pursuing “options” to have the federal government intervene in New York’s frack ban. This issue is FAR from over–our side has just begun to fight…
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VA May Repeal Law Allowing Pipelines Access without Permission

Accessing a landowner’s property without permission, and later (potentially) forcing that landowner to allow a pipeline across the property via eminent domain have never been supported by MDN. Neither, it seems, is it supported by other pro-drillers, especially those in Virginia. State Sen. Emmett Hanger from Augusta County, VA (located in the Shenandoah Valley on the western edge of VA) is a conservative, business-friendly and pro-drilling Republican. Hanger, like MDN, supports Dominion’s $5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline (see Enormous Benefits for All Virginians from Atlantic Coast Pipeline). But Hanger, also like MDN, is not in favor of access without permission. Hanger is attempting to get a 2004 Virginia law repealed that allows access to private property without permission so Dominion (and others) can survey the property for pipeline routes. As Hanger points out, that kind of behavior is working against them in terms of community goodwill…
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Important Expose on John Quigley, Nominee to Head PA DEP

MDN friend Tom Shepstone, who writes the excellent Natural Gas Now blog site, has just posted a must-read article on John Quigley, PA Gov. Tom Wolf’s choice to lead the Dept. of Environmental Protection. Tom does some real investigative journalism–something you won’t read in the Harrisburg Patriot-News, the Philadelphia Inquirer, or Democrat Party satellite publications like StateImpact Pennsylvania. You certainly won’t read anything detailed about Quigley in the Scranton Times-Tribune! Real investigative journalism has gone out of vogue in those publications. But not with Tom. Rather than copy his excellent work here, we’ll ask you to click on the link below and take time to educate yourself on the “real” John Quigley.