Fed Court OKs OH Class Action Royalty Lawsuit Against Cheseapeake

In 2017 a group of Ohio landowners did what others had previously done in Pennsylvania, Texas and elsewhere–they filed a proposed class action lawsuit against Chesapeake Energy claiming Chessy had screwed them and about 1,000 other Ohio landowners out of a collective $30 million in royalty payments (see OH Landowners File Royalty Class Action Lawsuit Against Chesapeake).
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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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Chesapeake Swings to Profit in 2Q, Investors Still Punish Stock

Chesapeake stock performance last 5 yrs (click for larger version)

Chesapeake Energy released its second quarter 2019 update yesterday. The company continues its mission to transform itself from a natural gas producer into an oil producer. The company is on track to produce 250,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil in 2019 (averaging 122,000 bpd in 2Q). CEO Doug Lawler said Chessy will dial back spending on natgas in 2020 and allocate more money to oil drilling in Texas and Wyoming. The Marcellus Shale continues to be a natural gas cash cow for the company, helping fund drilling in other plays.
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Chesapeake Turns its Back on NatGas in Pursuit of St. Elmo’s Oil

Chesapeake Energy CEO Doug Lawler continues his quest to transform what used to be the nation’s second largest natural gas producer into an oil company. Yesterday the company issued its first quarter 2019 update. From that update we learn that Chessy will pull money out of its Marcellus and Haynesville shale gas drilling programs, dropping from three to two rigs in the Marcellus and from two to one rigs in the Haynesville, in order to put more money, rigs, time and effort into the company’s Powder River Basin oil drilling program. We liken their pursuit of oil riches to trying to grab St. Elmo’s Fire–it appears, and as soon as you reach to grab it, it’s gone.
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Are Marcellus/Utica Shale Drillers Financially Healthy?

We read on a regular basis in mainstream media that shale companies spend more money than they bring in, and that investors are growing tired of pumping money into companies without a return on their investment. We’ve recently noticed a renewed commitment on the part of major drillers to get their financial houses in order–spend less and drill less in order to make more money. We spotted an article by Reuters on the “shale drillers aren’t profitable/healthy” meme which got us investigating the financial health (or lack thereof) for Marcellus/Utica drillers. What we found may interest you.
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PA Commonwealth Court Keeps Chesapeake Royalty Lawsuit Alive

In December 2017, a Bradford County, PA judge turned down Chesapeake Energy’s attempt to wiggle out of a royalty lawsuit on a technicality (see Bradford County, PA Judge Keeps Chesapeake Royalty Lawsuit Alive). However, the judge punted the case to a higher court, Commonwealth Court, to settle what he calls “novel questions of law”–rather than spending more time and money on such issues at the county court level. On Friday Commonwealth Court ruled…
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Encino Says They’ll Do it Better in the Utica than Chesapeake Did

Last Friday MDN reported that Encino Energy CEO Hardy Murchison and COO Ray Walker (formerly of Range Resources) spoke at the Ohio Oil & Gas Association (OOGA) 72nd Annual Meeting in Columbus (see Encino Belle of the Ball at OOGA’s 72nd Annual Meeting). We have two more reports on their talk that mentions things not covered in the first report.
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Chesapeake’s Marcellus Production Dips in 2018, Gas Price Soars

Chesapeake Energy, started by Aubrey McClendon as a gas-focused drilling company that went on to become the country’s largest natgas producer, is doing its darnedest to get rid of its natgas assets and turn itself into an oil driller. Yet it was the company’s natural gas assets that boosted the company’s financial performance in 4Q18, helping them turn in a better financial performance than analysts expected. Ironic, no?
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6th Circuit Court Upholds Ohio’s Forced Pooling Law

Landowners in Ohio who didn’t like being force pooled with their neighbors have, since 2015, tried to get the courts to declare that forced pooling is illegal. They’ve struck out in every court where they’ve tried that argument, including (now) the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
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PA AG Will Continue Chesapeake Royalty Lawsuit in Bradford Co.

PA AG Josh Shapiro

Pennsylvania’s Democrat Attorney General, Josh Shapiro, held a public meeting last night in Towanda (Bradford County), PA to talk about the state’s now three-year-old lawsuit against Chesapeake Energy, a lawsuit alleging the company has shafted landowners out of gas royalty money.
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Fed Court Allows PA Royalty Lawsuit Against Chesapeake to Proceed

Coincidentally on the topic of royalty lawsuits (see today’s companion story, PA AG Will Continue Chesapeake Royalty Lawsuit in Bradford Co.), MDN came across a story (and a lawsuit) we previously had not heard about. An important case brought by landowners in Wyoming County, PA.
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Chesapeake Signs Frac Sand Deal with Hi-Crush for Marcellus

Click for larger version

Hi-Crush Partners announced yesterday they’ve gotten Chesapeake Energy to sign a new, long-term frac sand supply agreement to buy Northern White frac sand to support Chessy’s completions program in the Marcellus (in Pennsylvania) and Powder River Basin (in Wyoming). Northern White sand comes from mines in Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota. But sand is sand, right? Why schlep sand all the way from Wisconsin (via rail) to Pennsylvania? Because sand is *not* just sand. Northern White has special properties that make it superior for fracking.
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Encino Takes Over from Chesapeake in Ohio Utica; Big Plans

The deal is done. On Monday, Encino Acquisition Partners completed its purchase of all of Chesapeake Energy’s Ohio Utica Shale assets for $2 billion, originally announced in July (see Stop Press: Chesapeake Sells ALL of its Ohio Utica Assets for $2B). The deal includes all of Chesapeake’s 933,000 Ohio acres (with 320,000 net Utica acres) and 920 operated and non-operated Ohio Utica wells. With the deal now done, Encino is signaling good things are ahead. The company will keep its Utica regional headquarters in Louisville, OH–right where Chesapeake had it. Encino has and will continue to operate two active drilling rigs in the Utica this year, and add a third rig next year. Encino CEO Hardy Murchison recently spoke about the company’s Utica plans moving forward. It has folks in Ohio excited!
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Chesapeake Now Gone from Ohio Utica; Spends $4B in Eagle Ford

Chesapeake Energy has just blown the minds (and confidence) of investors by plunking down $4 billion in cash and stock to buy WildHorse Resource Development Corp, a driller with big-time assets in the oily Eagle Ford Shale play in Texas. Investors didn’t like the news, punishing the stock by sending it 12% lower. Chesapeake Energy today is definitely not the same company it was even five years ago. Chessy was co-founded by the flamboyant Aubrey McClendon (God rest his soul). Aubrey, a landman by profession, founded the company as a natural gas driller–building it into the largest onshore natural gas-drilling company in the U.S. Today Chessy’s focus on gas is pretty much gone. While they still drill and maintain wells in both the Marcellus (in PA) and Haynesville (in Louisiana), most of the talk in Chessy’s 3Q18 update, which was issued yesterday, was oil, oil, oil.
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