IEEFA Report Says Marcellus/Utica Drillers in Financial Trouble

Masquerading as a nonpartisan, independent nonprofit, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) reportedly “conducts research and analyses on financial and economic issues related to energy and the environment.” The Institute’s stated mission is “to accelerate the transition to a diverse, sustainable and profitable energy economy.” In other words, they’re anti-fossil fuels. We spotted an article appearing on OilPrice.com that quotes a new “study” issued by IEEFA. The article opens by saying, “drillers in Appalachia are in particularly bad shape.” Is it true? Is the end near? Is it a shalepocalypse?
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Chesapeake Arranges $1.5B Loan to Pay Off Old Debt, Stock Soars

In an impressive feat of financial jiu-jitsu, Chesapeake Energy has just snapped closed the mouths of those who said the company was imminently heading for bankruptcy following the company’s third quarter update (see Chesapeake Energy 3Q – Slash Drilling 30%, Bankruptcy Possible). Yesterday Chessy issued three press releases to announce it has swapped out some of its old debt for 70 cents on the dollar, and has arranged a 4 1/2 year loan for $1.5 billion. Chesapeake stock soared 17% higher on the news.
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Chesapeake Energy Stock in Trouble – Delist? Reverse Split?

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Two weeks ago MDN brought you news about Chesapeake Energy from their third quarter 2019 update (see Chesapeake Energy 3Q – Slash Drilling 30%, Bankruptcy Possible). A number of news outlets and analysts focused on a legalese notification in Chessy’s SEC filing that stated IF certain things happen the company MAY HAVE issues continuing as a “going concern.” The chattering class jumped on that to say the company is sure-enough heading for bankruptcy. Since that time the stock market has not been favorable to the company.
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Investor Says Chesapeake NOT in Danger of Bankruptcy

Yesterday MDN brought you news about Chesapeake Energy and their third quarter update (see Chesapeake Energy 3Q – Slash Drilling 30%, Bankruptcy Possible). As we pointed out in our summary of the update, many news outlets were focusing on a legalese notification in Chessy’s SEC filing that states IF certain things happen the company MAY HAVE issues continuing as a “going concern.” The chattering class jumped on that to say the company is heading for bankruptcy. We spotted an article that takes a contrarian point of view, calling Chessy’s statement “much ado about nothing.”
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Chesapeake Energy 3Q – Slash Drilling 30%, Bankruptcy Possible

Chesapeake Energy, still with a sizable amount of acreage and shale wells in the Pennsylvania Marcellus, issued its third quarter update yesterday. Which happened to set off the chattering class buzzing about the possibility the company is close to declaring bankruptcy. This isn’t the first time “experts” have declared Chessy is close to bankruptcy (see this MDN post from 2016: Latest SEC Filing Shows Chesapeake Doesn’t Rule Out Bankruptcy).
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Chesapeake Royalty Lawsuit at PA Supreme Court – Can of Worms?

Yesterday MDN brought you the news the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case challenging whether or not the state Attorney General’s office has the right to use a consumer protection law to prosecute companies like Chesapeake Energy and Anadarko over royalty payment shenanigans (see PA Supremes to Consider Long-Running Chesapeake Royalty Lawsuit). The law the AG’s office wants to use has never been used that way before. According to legal experts, drillers are very concerned if the AG’s office wins this one.
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PA Supremes to Consider Long-Running Chesapeake Royalty Lawsuit

In December 2015, Pennsylvania’s felony-indicted Attorney General, Kathleen Kane (who later was convicted and did jail time) brought a lawsuit against Chesapeake Energy and Anadarko accusing them of royalty fraud (see PA Atty General Sues Chesapeake Energy, Williams for Royalty Fraud). Her successor, Josh Shapiro, has continued the fight.
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Ohio Landowners Lose Royalty Lawsuit Against Chesapeake Energy

A group of Ohio landowners sued Chesapeake Energy in 2015 in a class action, alleging that Chesapeake had shorted them on royalty payments (see OH Landowners File Royalty Class Action Lawsuit Against Chesapeake). Four long years later and an Ohio federal judge ruled yesterday…in favor of Chesapeake.
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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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