Eclipse Closes on Deal for JV Partner in OH Utica

1/3/18 Update: We received a cordial call from Eclipse Resources’ vice president Douglas Kris to alert us that our original headline and interpretation below misses the mark. We are happy to issue this correction. MDN’s interpretation of Eclipse’s JV news can be summed up in two points: (1) Eclipse got less than originally announced for this deal, and (2) the deal took longer than announced to get done. Both points need clarifying. Doug said on the first point, the original announcement quoted a range for the investment by Sequel, with the high end being $325 million. Due to the complicated structure of the deal, this first part of the deal which just happened (for $285 million) is less than the high end, but well within the originally quote range. AND the deal is not completely done, yet. By the time it is done, the total deal may be $325 million. As for the second point we made about a delay in the deal, Doug said the deal actually was done by September as originally forecast, but got held up by a delay with the Securities and Exchange Commission. A big “thank you” to Doug for alerting us. We like to make sure the information you read on MDN is correct! – Jim Willis, Editor

Original Post: It costs a lot of money to drill new shale wells in the Marcellus and Utica. Depending on the layer and how deep it is, Marcellus wells cost in the neighborhood of $7 million each to drill. Utica wells cost several million dollars more because the Utica layer is deeper–nearly twice as deep as the Marcellus. The latest trend, pioneered by Eclipse Resources, is drilling really long laterals (the horizontal part of the well), which also increases the cost per well. Long lateral wells are called “super laterals”–typically defined as being a lateral longer than 15,000 feet (nearly 3 miles!). Eclipse is the reigning champ of drilling super laterals, having drilled the three longest onshore horizontal wells in the WORLD, each of them 3.5 miles or longer. Eclipse wants to keep drilling super laterals and needs money to do it. Last August during a conference call with stock analysts to discuss second quarter 2017 results, Eclipse CEO Ben Hulburt revealed the company has brokered a new deal with Sequel Energy Group LLC, an affiliate of GSO Capital Partners (see Eclipse Res. 2Q17: $325M JV to Keep Drilling, Wants More Acreage). The deal with Sequel is a joint venture (JV) in which Sequel ponies up $325 million in return for partial ownership of the wells drilled (and a requisite share of the profits). The deal was supposed to be signed, sealed and delivered by last September. That didn’t happen. Two days after Christmas Eclipsed announced the deal has finally closed–but the final amount is $285 million, not the previously announced $325 million. That’s $40 million less than the originally announced deal…

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