Southwestern 2018: Sell Fayetteville Assets, Invest in Marcellus

Yesterday Southwestern Energy issued two announcements: One covers highlights of company activity and performance in 2017 with “guidance” predictions for 2018; the second is about “repositioning” the company’s “portfolio.” We’ll tackle the second one first. Southwestern’s announcement says (in obfuscated language), that they’re putting their considerable Fayetteville Shale assets up for sale, so the company can further concentrate its time, talent and money on developing their Marcellus Shale assets. We consider that big news. Southwestern drills in two shale plays: the Marcellus (in PA and WV), and the Fayetteville (in Arkansas). Acreage-wise, Southwestern owns more acreage in the Fayetteville than in the Marcellus–over 918,000 acres in Arkansas vs. 567,000 in PA/WV. They plan to use the money from a Fayetteville sale (rumored to be on the order of $2 billion) to pay down debt and invest in more Marcellus drilling. It will make Southwestern, headquartered in Houston, TX, a pure play driller in the northeast. As for 2017, Southwestern shared just a few high level numbers (the full report is due out March 1). The stat that caught our eye is Southwestern’s Marcellus production. At the end of 2017, Marcellus production averaged 2.35 billion cubic feet equivalent per day (Bcfe/d). That’s 40% higher than at the end of 2016! What’s ahead in 2018? Southwestern says they will spend $1.15-$1.25 billion this year–and every single penny will come from its own cash flow, no new borrowing or stock sales. Southwestern also said its operations in northeastern PA will, for the first time (ever) turn a true profit, somewhere around $150 million for the year. Here’s the latest on a big, and very important, Marcellus driller…

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