Antero 2017: Big Swing from Red into Black, 9 Long Marc. Laterals

Lots of news coming out of Antero Resources, one of the Marcellus/Utica’s biggest (and best) drillers. Antero issued its fourth quarter and full year 2017 update, along with a statement about the company’s proved reserves, earlier this week. Perhaps the biggest news is that after losing $849 million in 2016, net income for Antero in 2017 was $615 million–a $1.4 billion swing (to the good) over the course of a single year! Average daily production in 2017 was 2.25 billion cubic feet equivalent per day (Bcfe/d)–a 22% increase over 2016. Zooming in on just the fourth quarter, Antero completed and placed on line 28 Marcellus and 10 Utica wells. Antero said they are getting into long laterals. Of the Marcellus wells drilled in 4Q17, nine had laterals over 12,000 feet, with two of those exceeding 14,000 feet in length (over 2.5 miles horizontally underground). Even with long laterals, Antero decreased the average number of days it takes to drill a well–from 15 to 12 (20% less). They also upped the amount of sand they use in fracking by 23%–to over 2,000 pounds of sand per foot. At the end of 2017, Antero estimates it had 17.3 trillion cubic feet equivalent of natural gas sitting in the ground that can be extracted using today’s technology at today’s prices (“proved reserves”). That 17.3 Tcfe is 12% higher than at the end of 2016. Below is the whole enchilada–two updates from Antero, excerpts from the analyst phone call, and the latest and greatest PowerPoint presentation…
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Rover Pipeline’s SWPA Burgettstown Lateral Ready for Startup

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On Tuesday, Rover Pipeline (Energy Transfer Partners) sent an official request to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) asking for permission to begin service on one of the remaining legs of the pipeline not yet up and running as part of Phase 1 development. Rover wants to begin service on the Burgettstown Lateral by Feb. 26. The Burgettstown Lateral (see the map below) extends from Burgettstown (Washington County), PA through Hancock County, WV and into eastern Ohio, connecting to the main Rover Pipeline in Carroll County. The Burgettstown Lateral is 51.3 miles long and includes a compressor station in/near Burgettstown to push the gas along the entire length of the lateral. Rover still maintains they will have the entire Rover Pipeline network up and running by the end of March. There are still some areas in Ohio where they are working (drilling for a second pipeline under the Tuscarawas River), however, most of the work remaining to be done is in Michigan–Phase 2 of the project. When it’s all done, up and running, Rover will flow 3.25 billion cubic feet per day of Marcellus/Utica gas to the Midwest, Gulf Coast and Canada. Below is Rover’s request to “start me up” for the Burgettstown Lateral, along with a map of the lateral…
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WV Co-Tenancy Bill Survives Challenge, Amended, Final Vote Today

Two days ago we reported that the West Virginia House of Delegates was due to vote on House Bill (HB) 4268, the “Co-tenancy Modernization and Majority Protection Act” (see WV Votes on Co-Tenancy Bill Today; Anti Gets Mouthy, “Dragged” Away). In WV there are often multiple rights owners listed for a property–sometimes 200 or more rights owners for a single piece of property! It is often difficult, if not impossible, to track them all down and get them all to sign on the dotted line. Co-tenancy corrects that situation. A vote by the full House didn’t end up happening on Tuesday, as originally predicted. Amendments to the bill were offered. One of the amendments would have changed the ratio of rights owners who must sign on the dotted line to allow leasing from 75% all the way up to 90%–which isn’t feasible. Fortunately that amendment was voted down 57-40. However, another amendment–to reallocate half of the unclaimed royalties to fund health insurance for public employees including teachers–did pass (50-47). In the original bill 100% of unclaimed royalty revenue was to be used to cap orphan wells. Now the orphans only get half the funding. Perhaps most importantly, an amendment to limit co-tenancy to properties with seven or more rights owners passed 90-6. That amendment is intended to keep WV out of family squabbles, where just a few people own the mineral rights. The now fully-amended, fully-discussed bill is ready for a final final House vote, which is scheduled for today. After the House votes, it’s on to the Senate. Below are reports about the amendment process in the House…
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PA DEP Wants to Boost Shale Fees 250% to Help Fund Non-Shale Work

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP), the agency charged with overseeing oil and gas drilling in the state, “blindsided” the shale industry last week with a proposal to hike the fee required when submitting an application to drill a new shale well (see PA DEP Plans to Raise Marcellus Well Permit Fee by 250%). The current fee is $5,000. The proposed new fee is $12,500–or 2.5 times (250%) higher. The DEP Oil and Gas Technical Advisory Board (TAB) met yesterday to discuss the permit fee increase. It was DEP Deputy Sec. Scott Perry’s job to be the point guy, the spear catcher to stick up for this insane hike in fees. We understand…The DEP has fewer people working there than it once did and needs to hire more. (Although the DEP somehow found half a million bucks lying around to hire 92 interns to help out. See PA DEP’s Short-Term Solution to Get More Help – Hire 92 Interns). PA Gov. Tom Wolf wants to slap a new severance tax on shale drillers to give their money away to Philadelphia teacher’s unions. The DEP (an executive agency, part of the Wolf administration) is taking a page from Wolf’s playbook. The DEP wants to slap this insanely high fee on shale drillers to (in part) cover the expenses associated with non-shale activities. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Mr. Perry said they [shale permit fees] fund the broad scope of the [DEP] office’s operations, including its oversight of traditional [i.e. conventional] oil and gas wells, gas storage wells, abandoned wells and earthmoving activities.” How is it, in any sense, fair to hike the fees of shale drillers so DEP agents can better keep an eye on non-shale wells? Kind of like robbing Peter to pay Paul…
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Upstate NY’s Corning Gas Sees More Opportunities with Marcellus

Corning Natural Gas Corporation, a subsidiary of Corning Natural Gas Holding Corporation, is a local distribution company (LDC, or “utility”) with nearly 450 miles of gas pipeline mains transporting natural gas to roughly 15,000 customers. Corning makes natgas deliveries in 23 towns and villages–over 400 square miles–throughout the Southern Tier and central regions of New York State. Corning, as you may know, sits virtually on top of the border of New York and Pennsylvania. On the NY side of the border, a tyrant governor (Andrew Cuomo) rules with an iron fist and blocks fracking and even natural gas pipelines. On the PA side of the border, Marcellus (and increasingly Utica) shale gas is extracted in large quantities, creating a bonanza of economic and (yes) environmental benefits. Fortunately for Corning Gas, they are able to tap into some of that PA Marcellus supply. Corning Gas has a 50% joint venture owner in Leatherstocking Gas Company and Leatherstocking Pipeline Company. Leatherstocking runs gas mains to residents and businesses in small communities, like Montrose, PA (see PA Rural Residents Burn Marcellus Gas, Save Big Bucks on Heating). In a Securities and Exchange Commission 10-Q filing yesterday (10-Q is a comprehensive report of a company’s performance that must be submitted quarterly by all public companies to the SEC), Corning Gas management said one of their “most promising growth opportunities” is by “increasing connections with local gas production sources”–meaning they want to tap more Marcellus gas to sell to their customers. Corning Gas wants/needs more Marcellus gas in order to grow. We like the sound that!…
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Antis Pressure Maryland Gov. Hogan to Reject Pipeline Under Potomac

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan

In April 2017, MDN brought you the news that Columbia Pipeline (now owned by TransCanada) had filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to build a 3.5 mile, 8-inch pipeline that will carry natural gas from Pennsylvania to connect the Mountaineer Gas system in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia with the Columbia Gas Pipeline in Pennsylvania (see New 3.5 Mile Pipeline Project to Drill Under the Potomac River). That tiny section of pipeline is part of the larger Eastern Panhandle Expansion project–a project to deliver natural gas via local distribution channels (local utility Mountaineer Gas) to a new industrial facility in Berkeley County, WV, and to provide gas to other local businesses and residents in the Tri-State area. Anti fossil fuel nutters have been on a rampage to stop the pipeline from going under the Potomac since last summer (see Mountaineer Pipeline Under Potomac Latest Focus of Anti Movement). To hear them talk, you’d think this is the first time a pipeline has been drilled under the Potomac River. However, TransCanada, via its Columbia Pipeline subsidiary, has already built and operates 12 other pipelines that go under the Potomac River–just in the State of Maryland! Have you ever heard a peep about those pipelines and an environmental holocaust they’ve created? No. Why? Because putting a pipeline under a river is no big deal. It doesn’t harm the environment. Yet that’s what antis are claiming and will claim in a protest march today, aimed at pressuring the weak-willed Republican Governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan, into blocking this tiny, 3.5 mile project…
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Whatever Happened to Illegally Dumped Frack Waste in KY Landfill?

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In March 2016, MDN reported that 47 dumpsters full of concentrated frack waste from OH, PA and WV was illegally dumped in a Kentucky landfill in Estill County, KY (see Marcellus/Utica Frack Waste Illegally Dumped in Kentucky Landfill). The cuttings were buried between July and November in 2015, near as anyone can tell. The landfill sits across the road from a school. Normal frack waste has extremely low (usually no) radioactivity. But when drill cuttings are further processed and concentrated, as was the case with this series of loads, the naturally occurring radiation present can become more concentrated. Fortunately there’s no indication of a problem at the landfill: no indication that it’s leaking radioactivity into the water table, etc. But parents and residents were rightly up in arms (see Local Residents Demand KY Landfill Accepting Frack Waste Close). We last provided an update on this situation in July 2017 (see Update on Illegally Dumped Frack Waste in Kentucky Landfills). What’s happened since then? Not much. The radioactive waste is still there, buried. Still no signs of any leakage or problems. The landfill owners were fined and are required to create a mitigation plan. State officials want to keep the waste right where it is–best not to disturb it. But some locals want it dug up and moved–to somewhere/anywhere else. Here’s the latest on the “hot mess” in Estill County’s landfill…
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Kentucky Antis File Lawsuit to Stop TGP NGL Pipe Reversal

Kentucky antis have gone to court to try and block a plan by Kinder Morgan to convert a portion of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline that flows natural gas from the Gulf Coast to the northeast, to reverse the pipeline and flow natural gas liquids from the Marcellus/Utica region to the Gulf. Part of the 964-mile project runs through Kentucky (see KM Plans to Convert Tennessee Gas Pipeline to Flow M-U NGLs South). The first step in the reversal process was approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last October (see FERC Advances Plan to Reverse Part of TGP to Haul M-U NGLs to Gulf). Antis in Kentucky got their bluegrass knickers in a twist over FERC’s action. They filed a request for “rehearing” of FERC’s decision, which is the first step in a process that typically ends up in court. First the “aggrieved party” (antis are in a perpetual state of being aggrieved) must request a rehearing. If FERC denies the rehearing request, antis (Big Green groups with deep pockets representing them) then file a lawsuit in federal Appeals Court to try and stop FERC from continuing to approve the project. Normally FERC has 30 days to decide on a rehearing, however, they have a little tactic they call a “tolling order” which allows them to extend the amount of time to make a rehearing decision–indefinitely. FERC pulled out the tolling order card and played it with the TGP project last November (see FERC Frustrates Kentucky Radicals Seeking to Stop TGP Pipe Reversal). The antis aren’t waiting. They’ve just filed a lawsuit challenging the FERC tolling order. Here’s the latest from the enviro nuts in the Bluegrass State…
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More on Unintended Consequences for Pipelines from Trump Tax Cut

As we reported last week, President Trump’s marvelous tax cut has had some unintended (negative) consequences for pipeline companies (see Trump Tax Cut has Unintended Consequences for Pipeline Projects). Trade groups and some states are pressuring the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to force pipeline companies to cut the rates they charge customers in light of the Trump tax cut. The corporate tax rate is going from 35% down to 21%. When pipelines file rate cases for how much they will charge customers to flow gas (or oil or whatever else) through the pipeline, part of the calculation for what FERC allows them to charge is based on profitability. Since pipeline companies will now be a whole lot more profitable (tax payments going down), the customers using those pipelines want the rates recalculated to reflect the savings. In other words, they want part of the tax savings too. But the pipeline companies say they have duly signed contracts in place. You can’t just rework a single portion of those contracts with the sweep of a pen. What about other components in the contract that are used in calculating prices? In some (many?) cases pipeline companies have borne *increased* costs that are not passed along to customers. If the customers (mainly utility companies) want FERC to adjust rates now, based on the Trump tax cut, they may not like how those rates get adjusted considering all the other factors that could/should be changed. Maybe they’ll go up instead of down! As we said last week, a trouble is brewing between utilities and the pipelines that feed them. Here’s more background and insight into the brewing trouble…
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Other Energy Stories of Interest: Thu, Feb 15, 2018

The “best of the rest”–stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Huntley & Huntley begin seismic testing in Allegheny County; PA at severance tax crossroads; activists use Wayne Natl Forest decision to renew call for frack ban; Harrison County, WV votes to support local gas power plant; 24 rigs now operating in Ohio Utica; anti-pipeliners urge Mass. Gov. Baker to “break up” with natgas industry; Gulf Coast LNG soon expected to “dominate” world market; shale companies finally see profits; fossil fuel funding in Trump budget; bribery scandal sweeps through oil industry; and more!
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