Southwestern Loses $2.8B in 2016, Ramps Up Utica Drilling “Early”

After idling most of its rigs in the Marcellus/Utica during 2016, Southwestern Energy, one of our regions biggest drillers, is restarting rigs and drilling new wells in 2017–according to announcements made by the company over the past several days. Southwestern issued its 2016 update, and 2017 guidance, late last week. Some of the most exciting news to come from Southwestern came on the earnings call last Friday. Southwestern CEO Bill Way said this: “We are very encouraged by the early results of our first Utica well [in Marshall County, WV] and as a result have accelerated the timing for our second test well located in Washington County, Pennsylvania, which was spud earlier this month. And you will recall that we had originally planned to begin our Utica testing in 2018, but results from wells and circling our position and our first well, provided us with the confidence to accelerate this activity.” Although rigs got idled in 2016, it doesn’t mean there was no drilling. Last year Southwestern invested a total of $623 million in drilling, and drilled 62 wells, completed 86 wells, placed 85 wells to sales and had 135 wells in progress. Of the 135 wells in progress at year-end, 73 were located in Northeast Appalachia, 42 in Southwest Appalachia and 20 in the Fayetteville Shale. On the down side, the company reports losing $2.8 billion (mostly a paper loss for “impairments”–write-downs of asset value). But that’s a vast improvement over losing $4.7 billion in 2015…

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