Antero 2Q18: 2.5 Bcfe/d; $136M Loss; No More Utica Drilling This Yr

Antero Resources released its second quarter 2018 update yesterday. Antero is one of the largest drillers in the Marcellus/Utica with massive amounts of acreage in West Virginia (and elsewhere). Revenue was up in 2Q18 to $989 million, compared to $790 million in 2Q17. However, profits were down. In 2Q17 Antero lost $5.1 million, while in 2Q18 they lost $136 million. Antero produced a record 2.52 billion cubic feet equivalent per day (Bcfe/d) of natural gas–27% of that was liquids, including oil. In 2Q the company drilled 22 new Marcellus wells and brought 25 Marcellus wells online. They drilled 6 Utica wells and brought 5 Utica wells online. The company is pausing any new OH Utica drilling for the rest of this year in order to concentrate on the liquids-rich Marcellus region. Antero would have drilled and produced more except there is a trucking shortage in WV. Antero uses trucks to get its crude to market, and lack of trucks meant 100,000 barrels of crude are stored and can’t be moved, and that means the company has curtailed production in a number of WV wells. Antero expects the situation to improve by September. During 2Q Antero drilled what is (so far) the longest lateral for a WV shale well–15,100 feet!…
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Financial Checkup for Marcellus/Utica Drillers

RBN Energy, headed by founder Rusty Braziel (co-founder of Bentek Energy), is, in our opinion, the premier oil and gas analytics firm out there. Smart people working at RBN. And they offer up some amazing content on their blog site–for free! At least it’s free for a while, then it goes behind a paywall. A few days ago RBN published a blog post on the financial health for the 44 major publicly-traded U.S. exploration and production companies (drillers). RBN groups them into three categories: Oil-Weighted, Diversified, and Gas-Weighted. We found the Gas-Weighted list of 10 companies and the information revealed about them to be fascinating and worth studying. Each of the companies has major operations in the Marcellus/Utica–some of them totally focused on our region. Among the data points shared: revenue, production costs, lifting costs and more. We think of the following as a handy financial health scorecard/checkup for 10 of the biggest drillers in the M-U, including Antero Resources, Cabot Oil & Gas, Chesapeake Energy, CNX Resources, EQT, Gulfport Energy, National Fuel Gas (Seneca Resources), Range Resources, Southwestern Energy, and Ultra Petroleum…
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Antero Res. 1Q18: Record High 2.4 Bcfe/d Production, $4+ Hedges

Part of the rush of first quarter 2018 updates released this week included an update from one of the biggest Marcellus/Utica drillers–Antero Resources. Antero drills in WV, OH and PA–but their main focus is on drilling in WV (see Antero Resources Spent $1B in WV Last Year, Another $1B This Year). In a trend we’ve seen with other early-reporting drillers, Antero’s net income was down. However, the company still made money–$14.8 million of net income in 1Q18, down from $268 million of net income in 1Q17. Antero arguably has the best hedging program in the business–the ability to pre-sell their gas (and liquids), fetching prices higher than most others get. Most of Antero’s sales are hedged. The company reports that in 1Q18, if you were to combine natural gas and NGLs and oil, converting it all to natural gas equivalents, Antero sold their production for an average of $4.04 per thousand cubic feet equivalent (Mcfe). Impressive in a market where sometimes the price dips below $1/Mcfe. Speaking of impressive, Antero CEO Paul Rady opened his comments on an analyst phone call by saying, “First and foremost we had an exceptional quarter on the operational front. Despite difficult operating conditions, processing outages and severe weather, Antero delivered record production volumes.” The company hit a record-high of 2.4 billion cubic feet equivalent per day of production…
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Antero Resources Spent $1B in WV Last Year, Another $1B This Year

Antero Resources is seriously in love with West Virginia. Antero is headquartered in Denver, CO but is totally focused on drilling for natural gas, NGLs and oil in the Marcellus/Utica. Antero owns over 484,000 net acres in the southwestern portion of the Marcellus Shale, and over 137,000 net acres in the core of the Utica Shale. Most of their acreage is in WV. Of the $1.3 billion the company spent last year, and plans to spend again this year, around $1 billion (per year) is spent on drilling in WV–close to 80%. Over the next five years, Antero says it will invest $6 billion in the Mountain State. That’s some serious love! As the technology gets better, it takes less time to drill. Antero said it used to take 30 days to drill an 8,000-foot well. Today? They can do it in one day. One of the secrets to Antero’s success in WV is their new Clearwater facility that recycles 98% of the frack wastewater (flowback and produced water) coming from Antero’s wells. Below is an article in which Antero gushes about their love (and future plans) for WV…
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Antero Res. Considers Mining its Own Frac Sand to Cut Costs

If you hang around the business world long enough (as we have), you notice certain trends. One such trend from yesteryear is companies integrating up and down the supply chain. Like when a widget manufacturing company buys the company that supplies it the raw materials used to make the widgets. Example: a car manufacturer buys the company that supplies it with plastic dashboards–and then buys the chemical company that produces the plastic to make the dashboards. And then the same car company, on the other side, buys the credit union that makes the loans to buy their cars! The company becomes integrated. But then the pendulum swings and in recent years, the trend has been about dis-integrating–spinning things off into their own self-contained units. Better to focus on one thing and do it well, rather than be like GE and spread yourself around to multiple industries and specialties. In the oil and gas world, Chesapeake Energy once owned its own oilfield services company (Chesapeake Oilfield Services)–which they later sold. One thing you don’t hear much about is shale companies vertically integrating and buying suppliers. However, Antero Resources, one of the biggest and best drillers in the Marcellus/Utica, is actively considering such a move. Antero wants to buy its own frac sand company as a way of controlling costs. Is it a good idea, or a bad idea?…
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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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Impressive 2018 Marcellus Growth Not So Impressive Because of DUCs?

Our lead story today is about Gulfport Energy which highlights some exciting news: This year (in 2018) Gulfport will fund their entire drilling budget out of the cash flow the company generates from selling gas/oil/NGLs (see Gulfport Energy Continues Focus on Utica for 2018, No Borrowing). Thing is, Gulfport isn’t the only Marcellus/Utica driller to advertise the fact that this year they are “living within their means” and not borrowing. Others include Range Resources, EQT and Antero Resources. Wow! We’re finally profitable!! Or are we? MDN spotted some analysis by a hedge fund manager. Writing on the Seeking Alpha investor’s website, Josh Young says (in our words) “hold on a minute” with respect to M-U drillers appearing to be able to grow production without borrowing. Why is Josh not convinced with this good news? Because when you dig deeper into the numbers, you find that “organic growth within cash flow is further from reach” because drillers are using DUCs to spend less on drilling, and grow production, than they otherwise would be. A DUC is a Drilled but UnCompleted well. Many times drillers will drill the initial hole in the ground, but then not “complete” (or frack) the well. Why do that? For a variety of reasons. The biggest reason is usually because the commodity price of gas (or oil, depending on the well) is not favorable. Rather than lose the lease (an expensive proposition), drillers will begin the process by drilling, and then leaving, the well, returning later to complete it when prices go up again. Josh’s thesis is that by using DUC inventory drillers aren’t really funding the entire budget from current year cash flow, because some of the money was spent in a previous year to drill the well. They are, in essence, still borrowing–from a different year. Josh estimates an average of 20% of the “new” wells coming online are DUCs and not truly new wells funded by current year dollars–meaning these companies aren’t as “profitable” as they may seem. Does he have a point? Is it all just financial mumbo jumbo? You decide…
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Antero Res. Tells Stockholders: We’re Working on Low Share Price

Antero’s stock price performance last 12 months – click for larger version

We spotted a press release from Antero Resources which says, in essence, “We’re working on it.” What are they working on? Antero’s leadership is working on a way to boost the stock price. The press release begins this way: “Antero Resources announced today that the Company and its Board of Directors are working with its financial and legal advisors to evaluate various potential measures to address the discount in trading value of Antero’s stock relative to some of the premier U.S. large capitalization upstream independents that have a similar profile in terms of leverage, capital efficiency, production growth and free cash flow generation.” Translation: We know our stock price isn’t has high as other companies in our league. We’re working on ways to fix it.” What might those ways be? They don’t say. It has been our observation that companies with a perceived “discount in trading value” are often targets of corporate raiders, aka “activist investors,” who buy up 6-7% of a company’s outstanding shares and proceed to bully the company into laying off people and selling assets in an effort to make the stock price pop. We suspect Antero is positioning itself to fend off such an effort. You know, “He who gets there with the bad news first, wins” kind of thing. Antero is admitting there’s a problem and that they’re working on it (and they don’t need the help of someone like Carl Ichan, thank you very much)…
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Antero 2018: $1.45 Billion to Drill 125 Marcellus & 25 Utica Wells

Yesterday Antero Resources, one of the biggest and best drillers in the Marcellus/Utica (concentrating on just those two plays), released highlights of their 2017 performance and “guidance” for 2018–their plan for what they will do in 2018. In 2017 the company reports average net daily gas equivalent production was 2.3 billion cubic feet per day, an 18% increase over the same quarter in 2016. In 2018, Antero plans to spend $1.45 billion. What will that buy them? In the PA and WV Marcellus, Antero will run five rigs and drill 120-125 wells, with an average lateral length of 9,300 feet. The company says they will average 9 wells per well pad this year. In the Ohio Utica, Antero will operate one rig and drill 20-25 wells with an average lateral of 11,600 feet. In both the Marcellus and Utica, Antero says the cost to drill those wells will go down another 9% this year over what it cost them last year. Antero continues to be one of (if not THE) best “hedgers” in the business–realizing more money for their gas and NGLs than any other driller in the region…
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Supersize Me! Marcellus/Utica Well Pads Now Host Up to 40 Wells

The Marcellus/Utica Shale industry is changing underneath our feet–literally! Last time we checked, most well pads in the Marcellus/Utica sported an average of maybe 3-4 wells–with a dozen wells on a pad being “big.” Something has changed, dramatically, in the gas fields of PA, OH and WV. The “new normal” are supersized well pads–holding as many as (gasp) 40 wells! We hasten to add no such pad yet exists–a pad with 40 wells drilled from it. However, there is an EQT well pad in Allegheny County (near Pittsburgh) with 38 wells permitted (9 of which have been drilled so far). EQT says it now averages drilling 17-18 wells per pad. Antero Resources is drilling an average of 10 wells per pad–up from 3-4 “just a few years ago.” The trend now is more wells per pad, and longer laterals–meaning fewer well pads overall. That’s good for the environment, and good for the bottom line (less money spent pushing dirt around developing pads). Here’s an update on the trend to supersize well pads in the Marcellus/Utica…
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Antero Agrees to Add Monitoring Near New Frack Waste Landfill

By our reckoning, Antero Resources’ $275 million wastewater recycling facility in Doddridge County, WV is now operational (see Antero’s $275M WV Wastewater Recycling Facility Ready to Launch). In 2015 Antero hired Veolia Water Technologies Inc. to build a new shale wastewater recycling facility in Doddridge County (see Antero Building New 60K Bbl Wastewater Recycling Facility in WV). The facility, called the Clearwater Facility, can process up to 60,000 barrels of wastewater per day, separating water, salt and radioactive particles. The salt can be sold to municipalities for use as road salt–but frankly there’s not enough of a market to sell it all. And not all of it will be of sufficient quality to be sold that way. So Antero also spent $20 million to build a landfill next to the plant for the salt (see Update on Antero’s $275M Wastewater Facility in WV). In a move we were previously unaware of, a pair of Big Green groups–West Virginia Rivers Coalition and the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy–made a fuss about the landfill. They filed an appeal with the West Virginia Environmental Quality Board back in May challenging the permit allowing the landfill to get built. Antero has just settled the matter by signing an agreement to conduct additional surface water monitoring at and near the landfill site…
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Longer Laterals Major Trend in 2017 Marcellus-Utica Drilling

Yesterday MDN updated you on Eclipse Resources’ program of drilling looooong laterals–the horizontal part of shale wells (see Eclipse Res. 3Q17: Super-Laterals Proving to be Super Productive). Eclipse is the reigning champ, having drilled the three longest onshore horizontal wells–in the WORLD. Upward of 3.5 miles underground! All three of Eclipse’s record-breakers are Utica wells. However, Eclipse isn’t the only driller hopping on the long lateral bandwagon. In June, Range Resources reported drilling the longest Marcellus lateral well (see Range Resources Drills Longest Marcellus Well Ever – in Washington Co.). If you compare the lateral length of Range’s wells from 3Q17 with 3Q16, they are drilling laterals 90% longer than they were just one year ago! EQT and Antero Resources are also experimenting with longer laterals. All of which leads us to christen 2017, “the year of the longer lateral”…
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Antero’s $275M WV Wastewater Recycling Facility Ready to Launch

By our reckoning, Antero Resources’ $275 million wastewater recycling facility in Doddridge County, WV is either already operational, or will be within the next few days (sometime this week). In 2015 Antero hired Veolia Water Technologies Inc. to build a new shale wastewater recycling facility in Doddridge County (see Antero Building New 60K Bbl Wastewater Recycling Facility in WV). The facility, called the Clearwater Facility, will process 60,000 barrels of wastewater per day, separating water, salt and radioactive particles. The salt can be sold to municipalities for use as road salt–but frankly there’s not enough of a market to sell it all. And not all of it will be of sufficient quality to be sold that way. So Antero also spent $20 million to build a landfill next to the plant for the salt (see Update on Antero’s $275M Wastewater Facility in WV). According to the Clarksburg Exponent-Telegram, an Antero official recently said the Clearwater Facility is set to open in “the first part of November.” If you consider the first 15 days of the month the first part of the month, that leaves two days for the facility to be up and running. Hence our speculation it either already is open, or will be this week…
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Antero 3Q17: Long Laterals & More Sand, Production Up 24%

Antero Resources turned in their third quarter 2017 update earlier this week. On the ubiquitous analyst phone call, Antero CEO Paul Rady spoke at length about the company’s long laterals. Antero has been a leader in drilling long laterals with nearly 900 wells drilled at an average lateral length of 8,250 feet–with some 230 of those drilled with a lateral length longer than 10,000 feet. Of all the shale wells drilled in the Marcellus/Utica that are over 10,000 feet, Antero has drilled more than 30% of those wells. According to Rady: “Longer laterals at 9,000 plus feet generate materially higher well economics.” But long laterals aren’t the whole story. Antero is also bumping up the amount of sand they use in fracking. In 2016 they used 1,500 pounds per square foot. From there they moved to 1,875. Today? They use 2,500 pounds per foot. The company continues to be one of the best in the business with hedging, or pre-selling their gas on long-term contracts for prices higher than they would get on the day-to-day spot market. After hedging, Antero got $3.39 per thousand cubic feet (Mcf) for gas and equivalents (oil, NGLS) last quarter. Antero drilled and brought online 31 Marcellus wells and 6 Utica wells in 3Q17. Below is the full update, extracts from the analyst phone call, and the the latest slide deck…
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Doddridge, WV Drilling & Processing is Marcellus-Central

Doddridge County, WV

There’s no question that Doddridge County is one of the most active counties in West Virginia, with respect to the Marcellus/Utica industry. Doddridge is home to MarkWest’s Sherwood complex, the single largest gas-processing complex in the Northeast with eight cryogenic processing facilities. Antero Resources, an active (really big) driller in Doddridge, is building a huge wastewater recycling facility in the county. As we reported in September, the tax base in the county has tripled over the past seven years (see Doddridge County, WV Tax Base Triples in 7 Yrs Thx to M-U Shale). Dominion Energy also has a large presence in the county with hundreds of miles of gathering and interstate pipelines. Yes, Doddridge is a happenin’ place when it comes to the Marcellus. We’d call it “Marcellus-Central” in WV…
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