The Real Story of Antero’s $11M Clean Water Act Violations

Yesterday MDN began our lead story about a big fine for Antero Resources by saying, “This has to be a record-high amount for a fine plus remediation work, at least in the Marcellus/Utica.” We humbly admit we were wrong. In checking our records, we found that in a similar case from 2014, Trans Energy paid even more, quite a bit more. We researched what this whole business is about, why Antero and others were fined, interviewing a top Antero official, and we now have a far better understanding of what happened and why.
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Antero to Pay $11M in Fines/Restoration for Clean Water Violations

This has to be a record-high amount for a fine plus remediation work, at least in the Marcellus/Utica. Antero Resources has cut a deal with three government entities–the U.S. Dept. of Justice, federal Environmental Protection Agency, and West Virginia Dept. of Environmental Protection–to pay a $3.15 million fine and spend another $8 million to mitigate and restore 32 sites in West Virginia.

NOTE: MDN posted an important followup to this story after speaking with Antero, providing more context and background, here: The Real Story of Antero’s $11M Clean Water Act Violations.
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Trend: Marcellus/Utica Drillers Will Drill Less in 2019

There’s just no getting around the obvious–that the shale industry is once again heading into something of a dip. We’re not just talking about shale oil drillers scaling back drilling new wells in places like Texas and North Dakota. We’re talking about big gas drillers in the Marcellus/Utica who are signaling that 2019 will see less spending and less drilling, although production won’t decline.
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Antero “Nuisance” Lawsuit Heard by WV Supreme Court Temp Judges

Three years ago lawsuits filed by some 200 West Virginia residents against Antero Resources were combined into a class action lawsuit (see More People Pile on Antero, Seek to Join Mass “Nuisance” Lawsuit). The lawsuits are called “nuisance” lawsuits because, according to the plantiffs, Antero is a nuisance to them–truck traffic, noise, lights at night, etc.
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Antero Now Sells 30% of NatGas to Higher-Paying Midwest Market

Antero Resources, one of the biggest drillers in the Marcellus/Utica, is also one of the best hedging companies in the business. They routinely lock in prices for their gas up to a year (or more) in advance, to ensure they make a tidy profit. And Antero averages higher prices for their gas sales than just about any other Marcellus/Utica producer. This morning Antero issued an update on their latest hedging moves, which is always interesting. But that’s not what caught our eye. They also issued a fourth quarter update. No, not for the entire fourth quarter as we still have a few weeks left in 4Q and the full, official 4Q update won’t come along until maybe the end of January. But in this interim 4Q update, we spotted the news that because of the addition of the Rover Pipeline, Antero now sells a full 30% (up from 16%) of their natural gas production to Midwest markets–markets that pay, on average, more for gas than elsewhere.
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3 Drillers Pay $50K to Fund Mobile Emergency Unit for Belmont, OH

New mobile emergency response trailer (Credit: WTOV)

A feel-good story for your Friday. Three Utica Shale drillers operating in Belmont County, OH–EQT Corp., Ascent Resources and Antero Resources–between them donated $50,000 to the Belmont County Emergency Management Agency to purchase a mobile command unit trailer that can be hauled to sites where’s there is an ongoing emergency/crisis and used on location. Neighboring Monroe County will get to use it too. Taxpayers didn’t have to pay a dime. Everyone is tickled pink. Yes, there is some self interest in the donation, since better emergency response can theoretically aide their own workers in case of an emergency. But such incidents (in the shale industry) are rare. Chances are the trailer will be used for other types of emergencies. Which is just fine with the shale industry.
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Antero 3Q18: Production Passes 3 Bcf/d in Oct; Less Drilling 4Q

Antero Resources, one of the biggest drillers in the Marcellus/Utica, passed an important milestone last month: Producing more than 3 billion cubic feet equivalent per day (Bcfe/d) in natural gas (and related hydrocarbons). All of that production is in the Marcellus/Utica. Looking strictly at the third quarter–July through September–Antero’s production averaged 2.7 Bcfe/d (29% of it liquids), which is a 17% increase over 3Q17 and an 8% increase over 2Q18. We’re pretty sure we are on solid ground in saying the only company that produces more is EQT, with an average of 4.1 Bcfe/d in 3Q18. Watch out EQT, Antero is catching up!
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Antero Resources Provides Update on Barbour County, WV

Location of Barbour County, WV

You don’t hear much about shale drilling in Barbour County, WV. In fact, the last time we tagged a post for Barbour was in 2013! (see CONSOL Buys 90K WV Marcellus/Upper Devonian Acres, Well Report). Let’s be honest–Barbour is not a hotbed of drilling activity. Antero Resources’ VP Al Schopp recently provided an update on Barbour at a local Chamber of Commerce luncheon. Antero owns no active wells in the county, but has paid out money in severance and property taxes (perhaps a joint ownership in some wells?). Regardless, Al did his homework and provided excellent up-to-date numbers for what is (and is not) happening in Barbour with respect to shale drilling.
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By the Numbers – Revenue & Profitability for M-U Drillers

The expert analysts at RBN Energy have just published their “fourth and final” in a series of posts looking in detail at E&Ps (exploration & production companies, or “drillers”). One of the groups of E&Ps they examine are “gas-weighted” E&Ps–or drillers who mostly extract natural gas. In looking through the list, you immediately realize every one of them has operations in the Marcellus and/or Utica Shale region. Yes, a few also have operations in other plays, but they all have at least some operations here. The real value in the article is an accompanying spreadsheet comparing various financial metrics (apples to apples)–things like total revenue, lifting costs, production costs, and “pre-tax income,” meaning profitability. How do our drillers compare with each other?
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Antero Sheds MLP, Consolidates 2 Midstream Subsidiaries into One

Antero Resources, one of the biggest drillers in the Marcellus/Utica, is the latest in a string of companies to shed its master limited partnership (MLP) structure. Antero uses an MLP for two different pipeline subsidiaries. The company announced yesterday that one of the subsidiaries will buy out the other, and then convert the merged entity into a corporation. The move simplifies Antero’s midstream operations. Here’s the details.
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Antero Nuisance Case by Surface Landowners Goes to WV Supreme Crt

We’re not quite sure how to tackle this story as there are so many aspects to it. Let’s start here: Two years ago lawsuits filed by some 200 West Virginia residents against Antero Resources were combined into a class action lawsuit. The lawsuits are called “nuisance” lawsuits because, according to the plantiffs, Antero is a nuisance to them (truck traffic, noise, lights at night, etc.). That massive class action lawsuit, filed in early 2016, is about to be heard by the WV Supreme Court–a court in disarray after all of its sitting justices were impeached and removed.
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3 Counties, 5 Drillers Led OH’s 50% Increase in 2Q Gas Production

The Pareto Principle is alive and well in the Buckeye State. You may know it as the 80/20 rule, or in this case, the 75/25 rule. The rule that states roughly 80% of the results come from 20% of the effort. Last week MDN brought you the latest update from the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources–their second quarter 2018 report showing all production coming from the Ohio Utica Shale (see Top 25 Producing Gas & Oil Wells in Ohio Utica for 2Q18). While MDN provided you with Top 25 lists showing the best-performing wells (both gas and oil) during 2Q, and while we provided you with a better spreadsheet to view the information than that provided by the ODNR itself, our analysis was basic and high level. Utica natgas production was up a big 42% over the same period last year, and Utica oil production was up 11%–a cumulative 50% increase when you convert it all into equivalents. The experts at S&P Global Platts have done a deep dive into the numbers and have found that three counties represent 75% of all production in 2Q18, and five drillers represent 75% of all production in 2Q18. Which counties and which drillers? Read on…
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Rover Pipe Asks FERC to Start Up Final 2 Laterals, for Antero

We finally come down to the final two lateral pipelines for Rover. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) played a game of hardball with Energy Transfer (ET) over the Rover Pipeline. For months FERC refused to allow four Rover laterals–feeder pipelines to shuttle gas from where it’s produced into the main Rover pipeline–to start up (see FERC Plays Hardball with Rover – Refuses to Certify 4 Laterals). The reason? ET had not, according to FERC, lived up to its word on restoration work. Things like smoothing over the dirt and replanting grass/other vegetation over top of the buried pipeline. In early August ET assured FERC it would have the majority of restoration work done on two key laterals–the Burgettstown Lateral in southwestern PA, and the Majorsville Lateral in the northern panhandle of WV–by the end of August. FERC made ET sweat. Finally, near the end of August, FERC gave ET permission to start up both the Burgettstown and Majorsville Laterals on Sept. 1 (see FERC Finally Approves 2 Key Rover Pipeline Laterals, Sept 1 Start). That leaves just two final laterals, the CGT (Columbia Gas Transmission) and Sherwood Laterals, still not online. On Friday ET asked FERC to approve the startup for those two laterals, along with a compressor station and two meter stations associated with them. The driller with the most at stake in the startup of these two final laterals is Antero Resources…
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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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