Cabot O&G 3Q17: Marcellus Production 2 Bcf/d, $32M Profit

Cabot Oil & Gas, one of our favorite Marcellus drillers, released its third quarter 2017 update on Friday. Some of the things we learn from the report and the analyst phone call held by Cabot’s top brass: Production grew another 12% during 3Q17. In the Marcellus, Cabot’s natural gas production averaged just over 2 billion cubic feet per day gross (Bcf/d). If you use U.S. Energy Information Administration numbers from the most recent monthly drilling report, Cabot’s 2 Bcf/d equals 8% of all Marcellus production, and 3.3% of all shale gas production in the U.S! That’s truly amazing, considering it all comes from Susquehanna County (with a couple of wells in neighboring Wyoming County), in northeast PA. Profitability returned in 3Q17 with net income of $32 million, versus a net loss of $16.7 million in 3Q16. In the Marcellus, Cabot drilled and completed 13 net wells and placed online into production 15 net wells. They now have 49 “fourth generation” wells online and producing at an average of 4.4 Bcf per 1,000 feet. They also have 12 “fifth generation” wells online. One of the highlights for Cabot during 3Q17 was the announcement that Williams is now building their $3 billion, 198-mile Atlantic Sunrise natural gas pipeline project. Cabot says when the pipeline is done in mid-2018, Cabot will flow 1 Bcf/d of gas to new markets. Cha ching! New markets equal higher prices and more profitability for the company. Below is the full 3Q17 update, followed by remarks from CEO Dan Dinges made during the analyst call…
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Southwestern 3Q17: Huge Swing to Profit, Drilled 43 Marc Wells

Southwestern Energy, one of the biggest drillers in the Marcellus/Utica, delivered their third quarter 2017 update on Friday. Financially speaking the company displayed a remarkable turnaround. In 3Q15 Southwestern lost $1.8 billion! In 3Q16 Southwestern lost $735 million–trimming loses in half. In 3Q17, the company made a profit of $43 million, a swing of more than 3/4 of a billion dollars year over year and a swing of nearly $2 billion if you go back to 2015. Production in the Marcellus/Utica soared in 3Q17, up 26% over last year–to 153 billion cubic feet equivalent (Bcfe). That works out to 1.7 Bcfe per day. Southwestern has a lot of irons in the fire. They’ve drilled their second Utica well (happy with the results). They’re actively drilling in northeast PA, southwest PA and West Virginia. Overall, across the entire Marcellus/Utica patch, Southwestern drilled 43 wells, completed 25 wells and brought online into production 33 wells–in the past three months. The company also began work on a water infrastructure project–in the Panhandle area of West Virginia. The water project is expected to reduce well completion costs by $500,000 per well beginning in late 2018, and lower Southwestern’s break-even gas price by $0.25 per Mcfe. Yeah, a lot of irons. And they own a lot of acreage throughout the play. But the company does a good job in juggling all of the competing priorities. Below is the full 3Q17 update, followed by comments from Southwestern’s senior VP of E&P operations, John Bergeron…
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EQT CEO Signals Company Likely to Split in Two After Rice Merger

It looks like all of the agitating and nasty letters and lobbying by corporate raiders has had an effect on EQT. In June, EQT and Rice Energy announced that EQT will buy out and merge in Rice Energy, to create (in EQT) the largest natural gas-producing company in the United States (see EQT Buys Rice Energy in $8.2B Deal, Becomes #1 Gas Producer in US). A few weeks later, so-called “activist investor” (i.e. corporate raider) Jana Partners, in league with the Cohen family (Atlas Energy) started a proxy fight to block EQT’s takover/merger with Rice (see Proxy Fight: Jana Partners, Atlas Tries to Stop EQT/Rice Deal). A vote is scheduled for Nov. 9 on the merger deal–expected to pass. From the beginning, Jana has used bullying tactics to try and pressure EQT into abandoning the buyout/merger, and instead split itself into two companies–upstream (i.e. drilling) and midstream (i.e. pipelines). The language thrown around is called “sum of the parts”–as in if EQT splits apart into two separate companies (the parts) the two would be worth more to investors, each company’s stock would preform better, than continuing on as a single company. Other EQT investors, like corporate raider D.E. Shaw Group, have also lobbied for the same split. Under pressure, EQT announced in September that it will move up the timeline to consider such a split (see Under Pressure, EQT Moves Up Timeline to Explore Splitting Co.). Last week EQT issued their third quarter update and held an analyst phone call. In response to a question from an analyst, EQT CEO Steve Schlotterbeck all but said the company will split in two after a special committee formed to explore that option makes it final recommendation…
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PA PUC Hands ME2 Pipeline Rare Defeat re SWPA Valve Station

Sunoco Logistics has been slapped down in a ruling by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Service (PUC) with respect to a valve station, part of the Mariner East 2 (ME2) pipeline project. In March, MDN told you about an attempt by liberal anti-pipeliners in West Goshen (Chester County) to block the ME2 project (see West Goshen’s Last Stand to Stop Mariner East 2 Pipeline). West Goshen signaled it would deny Sunoco a zoning permit to build a valve station for the pipeline. Sunoco politely, but firmly, told West Goshen the pipeline doesn’t need a permit from the town because it’s a state-permitted project. Sunoco said it would move forward at the appropriate time with a valve station installation. In early July, West Goshen tried again, by filing a 135-page petition with the PUC, asking the PUC for an emergency order to stop construction of the new valve station that Sunoco was set to begin work on at any time (see West Goshen Pulls Legal Stunt in Attempt to Stop ME2 Pipeline). But the PUC responded “no thanks” to West Gosehn, they appealed the PUC decision to an administrative law judge who promptly put a temporary halt on building a new valve station (see Judge Temporarily Stops ME2 Valve Station in West Goshen). The whole issue revolves around which side of the road to build the valve station. West Goshen wants it built next to an existing, Mariner East 1 valve station, but Sunoco wants to build the new station across the street, citing safety concerns. After reviewing the judge’s order, the PUC has now flipped and supports the judge. In a decision issued last Thursday, the PUC told Sunoco they will need to honor an agreement previously made with West Goshen to build the valve station on the ME1 site…
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PA Sev Tax Dead in This Year’s Budget, Gov Wolf Trash Talks House

For some reason Tom Wolf has successfully cultivated a public persona of a genteel, non-partisan businessman–from the very beginning of his race for the governor’s chair even through today. We weren’t fooled, but many were. He’s proven to be just what we thought he was: a vicious partisan liberal, a spoiled rich kid who grew up to be a spoiled rich adult. Someone who throws a fit when he doesn’t get his own way. The severance tax is a perfect example. From his first day in office, Wolf lobbied hard for a severance tax. Such a tax was thought to be an easy way to pour billions of dollars into “education.” It was Wolf’s quid pro quo with Philadelphia teacher’s unions. They voted him into office, and he would repay them with big money–getting it from an “easy mark”–the Marcellus industry. Turns out the industry wasn’t such an easy mark after all. It has been a long, bloody fight, but the fight (for this year) is now over and Wolf has lost, third year in a row, to get a severance tax passed. His anger bubbled over last week and Wolf revealed his true character. When asked about the budget process, Wolf’s office issued this statement about House Republicans, attributed to Wolf: their opposition to a severance tax “has revealed the worst of Harrisburg.” In other words, Wolf just called House Republicans, his principled opponents, “the worst of Harrisburg.” His comment is the political equivalent of a five year-old stomping his feet and throwing himself on the floor when he doesn’t get his own way. Thank God for House Republicans who held the line against this insane severance tax, and shame on Senate Republicans who turned traitor. Hopefully they’ve learned a lesson from their courageous House colleagues about holding the line…
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Study: Marcellus Shale Cut PA Residential Gas Bills 40% in 10 Years

Last week the University of Pennsylvania published “Pennsylvania’s Gas Decade,” a study looking at the impact of the Marcellus Shale on the state’s utility customers over a ten-year period, from 2007-2016 (full copy below). The study shows that on average, PA customers now pay 40% less for natural gas than they did ten years ago. The study also shows electricity customers are paying less–thanks to the Marcellus. Before Marcellus drilling began, PA produced 1% of the nation’s natural gas supplies. Today? PA produces 16% of our country’s natgas supplies. Thank you Marcellus! The study’s author predicts the trend toward lower natgas prices for PA residents will reverse–eventually. Why? The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved a staggering 53 interstate pipeline projects that cross PA (more than twice that of any other state). Once/if those projects are built, more gas will flow out of the state, meaning prices for gas will rise. Hey, drillers aren’t sticking around in PA just to break even or lose money. They are in the state to make money, and part of making money is getting the gas to other markets. In the meantime, before the plethora of pipelines are built, PA residents should enjoy the low prices they’re paying…
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Another Radical Anti Tapped to Head Radical PennFuture

Photo credit: Brandon Reefer

How many times can we fit the word “radical” into a story? We’re not sure, but we may break the record today. We can’t stress enough just how radical the so-called environmental organization PennFuture really is. Let’s define terms. According to Google, “radical” is defined as, “Advocating…complete political or social change; representing or supporting an extreme or progressive section of a political party.” Perhaps we could summarize it this way: a radical is someone who is far outside the mainstream, someone who wants to fundamentally change the way you live. That’s PennFuture. The organization is dedicated to ending the use of fossil fuels, period. That’s extreme. That’s not normal. That’s lunatic, in our humble opinion. PennFuture has spawned a number of far-left political types who have populated the Tom Wolf administration in Pennsylvania. Former employees of PennFuture who have worked in high level positions in liberal Democrat Tom Wolf’s administration include: John Quigley, Secretary of the Dept. of Environmental Protection (now gone); John Hanger, Secretary of Policy and Planning (now gone); and Cindy Dunn, Secretary of the Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources (still there). The current CEO of PennFuture, Larry Schweiger, is retiring. So it’s time to appoint a new radical to replace him. That enviro radical would be Jacquelyn Bonomo, a Penn State English major whose credentials to lead PA’s “leading environmental organization” seem to be bird watching and hiking…
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Trump’s FERC Commissioners Disagree on Grid Reliability Plan

Several weeks ago U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry sent a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) directing the agency to complete action on a “grid resiliency” pricing rule within 60 days. The proposed rule Perry proffered to FERC would put in place regulations that favor electric generating plants powered by coal and nuclear. That is, it would allow unprofitable ventures to pass along new costs, making them profitable–in the name of protecting the electric grid. The theory Perry (and by extension President Trump) subscribe to is that if the free market drives out coal and nuke plants, the electric grid would be “vulnerable” to far fewer sources to power it. If coal and nukes are all but gone, and all of sudden there’s a natural gas shortage, or prices spike for natural gas, it would endanger the electric supply in this country. On one side of the argument are those who believe the free market sometimes needs a helping hand (via regulation), and on the other those who believe the free market will sort it all out and we are not vulnerable. It’s no surprise that the coal and nuclear lobbies are celebrating Perry’s action, and the oil & gas lobby along with electric grid operators, are not (see Appalachian Grid Operators: We Don’t Need Trump’s Reliability Plan). The focus now is on FERC and what they will do. President Trump has appointed two members (so far) out of the three sitting FERC commissioners, with two more on the way. What do Trump’s appointees think, in general, about Perry’s grid reliability plan to favor coal and nukes? Neil Chatterjee, former aid to Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell (from coal country) and currently FERC Chairman, appears to favor the concept, going by remarks he made on Friday. However Rob Powelson, from Pennsylvania’s gas country, does not appear to favor Perry’s plan, going by remarks he made last week. Looks like Trump’s appointees may be headed for their first argument since getting hitched…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Mon, Oct 30, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Plant manager hired for Tenaska SWPA electric plant; FirstEnergy dumping coal & nukes regardless of what govt does; latest CNG station opens in Beaver County, PA; PA House hearing on DRBC frack ban tomorrow; Haynesville production through the roof; the Clean Power Plan is irrelevant; US gas exporters rush to sell LNG to China; and more!
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