OOGA 73rd Annual Mtg: More Downsizing Ahead

Over 700 people gathered yesterday in Columbus, OH for OOGA’s (Ohio Oil & Gas Association) 73rd Annual Meeting. Industry leaders soberly assessed the state of current affairs. According to OOGA president Matt Hammond, the industry may have to downsize for a while. Jeff Fisher, CEO of Ascent Resources, agreed. Hammond said, “it’s just going to look a little bit different in the next few years” before the price of gas rebounds. The sentiment was clearly what we’ve been preaching: Expect lower for longer when it comes to gas prices.
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Ascent Resources: Prod. Up 45% in ’19, Spending Down 42% in ’20

Ascent Resources, originally founded as American Energy Partners by gas legend Aubrey McClendon, is a privately-held company that focuses 100% on the Ohio Utica Shale. The company recently issued its full-year 2019 update with a look at what it plans for 2020. Ascent is Ohio’s largest natural gas producer, and 2019 was a VERY good year for the company’s production. Average daily production zoomed up 45% from 2018, to 1.97 billion cubic feet equivalent per day (Bcfe/d). Of that number, some 1.8 Bcf/d was natural gas, and oil production was 13,000 barrels/d. Most importantly, Ascent made a profit of $466 million in 2019, compared to losing $4 million in 2018. Way to go!
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S&P Downgrades Credit Rating for Six Big Marcellus/Utica Drillers

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Large Marcellus/Utica drillers continue to take it on the chin in the financial markets. The stock prices for almost all M-U drillers have tanked, and now (at least for some of them), their credit ratings have been downgraded too. Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings recently downgraded the credit rating for six of the biggest M-U drillers…
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M-U Companies Dominate Top 10 NatGas Producers in 2019

Quick: Which company which recently had a board and upper management shakeup and focuses exclusively on Marcellus/Utica drilling is the #1 natural gas producer in the United States? That’s right, EQT. In a list of the top 40 natgas producers in the U.S. (full list below), it’s striking to note that eight of the top 10 are focused exclusively or primarily on the M-U.
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Encino Sends 70%, Ascent Sends 33% of Utica Gas to Gulf Coast

Last week, in addition to the petchem event held in Pittsburgh, Hart Energy held their DUG East (Developing Unconventional Gas) event in Pittsburgh. Although MDN did not attend DUG, MDN friend Rick Stouffer from Kallanish Energy did. Rick caught some interesting news about two of the biggest drillers in the Ohio Utica–Ascent Resources and Encino Energy. One of the eye-opening stats Rick reports is that Encino is sending a full 70% of their Utica production to the Gulf Coast. In addition, most of Ascent’s production goes out of the region too–one-third to the Gulf Coast, one-third to the Midwest, and one-third to the East Coast.
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Ascent Resources Issues Brief 2018 Update, 2019 Guidance

Yesterday Ascent Resources, a company founded by Aubrey McClendon after he left Chesapeake Energy, issued a (very) brief recap of what happened in 2018, and a look ahead (“guidance”) at what the company expects to accomplish in 2019. The update is brief–cherry-picking highlights to share–because it can be. Ascent’s stock is not publicly traded, so they don’t have to provide full financial updates (except to their investors). Ascent is a big and important driller in the Utica, so *any* information they share is useful and of interest.
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ODNR Releases Ohio Utica O&G Production for 3Q18 – Top 25 Wells

The Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources (ODNR) issued third quarter 2018 production numbers for Utica shale oil and gas production yesterday. And what a report it is! Natural gas production was up an amazing 31% over the same period last year (after being up 42% in 2Q18). Utica natgas production broke another record, hitting a new all-time high of 605 billion cubic feet (Bcf) in 3Q18. But perhaps the biggest story was Utica oil production. In 1Q18 Utica oil production was down 3.6%. In 2Q18 Utica oil production was up 11%. But in 3Q18, Utica oil production soared, going up 32%.
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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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Who’s the Biggest NatGas Producer in the Ohio Utica?

The Ohio Oil and Gas Association (OOGA) and St. Clairsville Area Chamber of Commerce sponsored an update on the Utica Shale and its impacts in southeastern Ohio at a one-day event held yesterday at Belmont College. The upshot of the day seemed to be this: The Utica is still creating thousands of jobs, and still attracting millions of dollars in investment. Among the speakers were reps from both EQT and Ascent, who had some interesting comments about their respective operations. Question: Who do you think is the largest natural gas producer in Ohio today? One of the speakers made the surprise claim that her company is now the top producer in Ohio.
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Mystery Seller of Ohio Utica Acreage to Ascent Finally Identified

At the end of June, Ascent Resources, a company founded by Aubrey McClendon after he left Chesapeake Energy, announced it is buying 113,400 Utica Shale acres along with 93 operating wells located in eastern Ohio for $1.5 billion (see Ascent Resources Spends $1.5 Billion to Buy OH Utica Acreage, Wells). The new acreage tips Ascent over the 300,000 Utica acre line and catapults the company into one of the largest privately owned drillers (exploration and production) in the U.S. The companies selling their Utica assets are CNX Resources and Hess (selling a joint venture they co-owned, each selling their share for $400 million each, for a total of $800 million), Utica Minerals Development (a subsidiary of First Reserve, a private equity firm headquartered in Greenwich, CT, and EMG), and a fourth, unnamed mystery seller. Now that all of the deals have closed, the mystery seller has been revealed…
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Chesapeake, Ascent Resources Float New Round of IOUs

Although the two companies and their actions are unrelated, we found it interesting that both Ascent Resources and Chesapeake Energy (big Marcellus/Utica drillers) floated plans yesterday to raise more money by issuing new IOUs (called “notes”). In the case of Ascent (founded by Aubrey McClendon), they’re issuing $600 million of new notes (due payable in 2026) in order to pay off $525 million worth of notes due in 2022. In the case of Chesapeake Energy (co-founded by Aubrey McClendon), they’re issuing $1.25 billion in new notes (due payable in 2024 & 2026) to repay a loan due in 2021. Keep kickin’ that debt can down the road…
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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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OH Town Threatens to Sue Ascent Resources re Road & Lease Issues

The mayor of Bloomingdale, OH, in Jefferson County, wants Ascent Resources to “come to the table for more fair arrangements on leases, road use agreements and fixing already-damaged roads.” The mayor and the village council are threatening to sue Ascent if they don’t “come to the table.” In other words, pay up or else. What has Ascent done to anger the mayor and village? Primarily the issue involves RUMAs–road use maintenance agreements. Some roads the village says Ascent uses have been damaged and the village wants them fixed. They also want a new agreement in place to pay for more fixes in the future. The mayor also says Ascent is using pressure tactics in leasing land from village residents. Some one-third of the village is now leased. These problems have been going on for about a year now, and the situation seems to be coming to a head…
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Ascent’s $1.5B OH Utica Deal Yields $1.4M in Fees for 2 Counties

In late June Ascent Resources, a company founded by Aubrey McClendon after he left Chesapeake Energy, announced it is buying 113,400 Utica Shale acres along with 93 operating wells located in eastern Ohio for $1.5 billion (see Ascent Resources Spends $1.5 Billion to Buy OH Utica Acreage, Wells). It’s a big deal, making Ascent one of the largest privately owned exploration and production companies in the U.S. It’s also a big deal for the counties where the land is changing hands. A large part of the acreage is located in Jefferson County, with sizable chunks in Belmont, Noble and Harrison counties. Why is it a big deal for the counties? It takes time (and consequently fees) to transfer all those thousands of leases from one owner to another. Counties stand to make a big windfall. For example, in Jefferson County, some $305 million worth of transfers will take place between CNX and Ascent, netting the Jefferson clerk’s office $1.2 million in fee revenue! It is the single largest ownership transfer in Jefferson County history. In neighboring Belmont County (to the south of Jefferson), $58 million worth of transfers are taking place, netting the county $173,000 in transfer fees. No word yet on how much money Noble and Harrison stand to make…
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Ascent Resources Spends $1.5 Billion to Buy OH Utica Acreage, Wells

Last Thursday, Ascent Resources, a company founded by Aubrey McClendon after he left Chesapeake Energy, announced it is buying 113,400 Utica Shale acres along with 93 operating wells located in eastern Ohio for $1.5 billion. The new acreage tips Ascent over the 300,000 Utica acre line and catapults the company into one of the largest privately owned drillers (exploration and production) in the U.S. The companies doing the selling are CNX Resources and Hess (selling a joint venture they co-owned, each selling their share for $400 million each, for a total of $800 million), Utica Minerals Development (a subsidiary of First Reserve, a private equity firm headquartered in Greenwich, CT, and EMG), and a fourth, unnamed mystery seller. The CNX/Hess acreage (78,000 net acres of the 113,400 acres) is located in the wet gas window of Belmont, Guernsey, Harrison and Noble counties. We’re not sure about the location of the other acreage. The CNX/Hess jv sale marks Hess’ total exit from the Utica Shale. So how will Ascent pay for all of their new shiny new assets? After all, they only just emerged from bankruptcy in April (see Ascent Resources Marcellus Exits Chapter 11 Bankruptcy). [Correction: Ascent Resources Marcellus was the part of the Ascent business that filed for bankruptcy and is not related to Ascent Resources Utica and this new transaction.] Ascent will pay for it by issuing $965 million in new shares of equity (private stock), and borrowing $535 million under their existing line of credit…
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Ascent Resources Marcellus Exits Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

In February, MDN brought you the news that Ascent Resources Marcellus, a company founded by Aubrey McClendon after he left Chesapeake Energy, had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy (see Ascent Resources’ Marcellus Unit Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy). Ascent Marcellus is one of several companies using the Ascent name. The Ascent Marcellus piece of the pie owns 43,000 of leases and has drilled some 547 wells in West Virginia. Big operation. The good news (if there’s ever good news in bankruptcy), is that 75% of the debtholders signed onto a prepackaged bankruptcy plan. The plan worked. On March 30 Ascent announced it has officially emerged from bankruptcy with a new board of directors and the same management team as before…
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