Moody’s Downgrades EQT Debt to Junk Status Following Write-Down

On Monday EQT, the nation’s largest natural gas producer (based in Pittsburgh) filed an update with the SEC to say it would write down the value (called an impairment) for some of it’s Marcellus/Utica assets–to the tune of $1.8 billion (see EQT to Write Down Up to $1.8 Billion in M-U Assets for 4Q19). Also in Monday’s update is the news that EQT is recognizing a 20% reduction in the value of its reserves (not as much as can be extracted profitably at current prices). Given Monday’s news, the analysts at Moody’s Investors Service downgraded some of EQT’s debt (notes), to junk status.
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EQT to Write Down Up to $1.8 Billion in M-U Assets for 4Q19

In a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing made yesterday, EQT, the country’s largest natural gas producer, informed the SEC (and investors) it will likely take an impairment charge (“write down”) for the value of some of its Marcellus/Utica assets–by $1.4 to $1.8 billion. Which pales in comparison to Chevron’s write down of it’s M-U assets to the tune of $5+ billion (see Chevron Writes Down $5B+ in Marc/Utica Assets, Looks to Sell All).
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EQT Pays Big Money to Hire Former CONSOL Exec as CFO

David Khani

EQT has just lured CONSOL Energy’s chief financial officer (CFO) away and hired him–for BIG money. Big in our book anyway. David Khani was paid a signing bonus of $2 million and will get an annual base salary of $540,000 per year. Plus bonuses. Who says bean counters don’t make big money? Oh! And Khani has a connection to MDN’s home town too.
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LOLA Energy Files 2nd Lawsuit Against EQT for Trespass in SWPA

Last July MDN broke the news that LOLA Energy had filed a lawsuit in Greene County, PA against EQT for allegedly drilling shale wells under property EQT formerly leased, but property for which the leases had lapsed and were subsequently scooped up by LOLA Energy II (see LOLA Energy Sues EQT for Trespass, Drilling Wells Under LOLA Land). LOLA said they are the owners of those leases now and that EQT has drilled under some of their properties. In another MDN exclusive, LOLA has just filed a second lawsuit in Greene County against EQT for the same thing: trespassing on LOLA-leased property.
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Big M-U Drillers Slash 2020 Spending a Collective 25%

For months MDN has brought you bits and pieces of news from individual drillers, detailing plans to cut back on spending for new drilling in the Marcellus/Utica in 2020. It’s not just happening in the M-U–it’s happening across the country. The experts at RBN Energy have a terrific new post that pulls information about major drillers scaling back into one place. They analyze spending by three different groups of drillers: oil-focused, diversified, and gas-focused drillers. In the third category, all but one of the gas-focused drillers have major operations in the M-U. The stats are sobering. As a collective group, M-U gas drillers have pledged to cut their 2020 budgets 25% from the already-lower spending that happened this year. Ouch.
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EQT CEO Toby Rice Says WV Co-Tenancy Law May Not be Enough

West Virginia’s co-tenancy law was signed into law by Gov. Jim Justice in March 2018 (see WV Gov. Justice Does 180 – Says He’ll Sign Co-Tenancy Bill). According to speakers at the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association (WVONGA) 2019 Fall Meeting, the new law is working pretty well (see WVONGA Meeting: New Co-Tenancy Law Working, Still a Few Kinks). However, EQT CEO Toby Rice told WV legislators yesterday that co-tenancy may not go far enough for his company.
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Last of EQT’s Old Mgmt Team Becomes President of Washington Gas

Donald “Blue” Jenkins

That was fast! In November MDN told you the last remaining member of EQT’s former top management team, Executive VP Donald “Blue” Jenkins, had proffered his resignation and would leave on Dec. 15 (see Last Remaining Member of “Old” EQT Exec Team Resigns). On Dec. 16, the very next day after leaving EQT, Jenkins became president of Washington Gas, a natural gas utility company in the Washington, DC area with more than a million customers. Blue landed on his feet.
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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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Natural Gas Supply Association Goes Nuts, Supports Carbon Tax

What’s the clinical term for a person who intentionally wants to harm him or herself? Self harm? Self injury? Self flagellation? That’s what we call the situation at the NGSA (Natural Gas Supply Association) which yesterday said it supports an economy and shale-killing carbon tax “as a critical pathway to aggressively reducing carbon emissions.” Are they nuts? Have they lost their collective minds?!
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Last Remaining Member of “Old” EQT Exec Team Resigns

During the proxy fight earlier this year to control EQT Corporation’s board–and ultimately its management team–Toby Rice threw some sharp barbs including talk that EQT’s existing management was not up to the task of effectively running the company. The Rice boys said so, their board nominees said so, and Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) said so. There will be change (i.e. personnel change) at the “operational level” said ISS. Imagine our surprise when, after assuming control, Toby said there would *not* be a wholesale replacement of top management (see Toby Rice, EQT’s New CEO, is NOT Cleaning House re Top Management). We guess it depends on what you mean by “top management,” because as of Dec. 15, the last remaining member of the “old” (former) eight-member senior management team at EQT will be gone. Which sure sounds like wholesale replacement to us.
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EQT CEO Toby Rice Says All Aboard the Happiness Campaign

Toby Rice, still relatively new in his role of CEO at EQT, spoke about changing the culture at the nation’s largest natural gas-producing company. At a Southpointe CEO Association event yesterday afternoon in Washington County, Rice said, “These past 100 days, I tell everybody, they’re on the happiness campaign, they just don’t know it.” Our summary of his comments: “All Aboard the Happy Train!”
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EQT Hammers Equitrans to Lower Gathering Price – Deal Close?

The Pittsburgh Business Times is reporting that EQT and Equitrans (formerly EQT Midstream) are “inching closer” to a renegotiated agreement for Equitrans to continue EQT’s natural gas gathering and shipping. During conference calls with analysts last week, both EQT CEO Toby Rice and Equitrans President Diana Charletta were said to be “optimistic” about the eventual outcome of those negotiations. Our interpretation is that EQT is hammering Equitrans to lower the cost of gathering and transporting their gas.
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EQT 3Q – $1.5B in Assets for Sale, Including OH Utica, Equitrans

EQT, the largest natural gas producing company in the U.S., issued its third quarter update yesterday–the first such update since Toby Rice took over as CEO of the company in July. There was a LOT of news coming out of yesterday’s update and conference call. Perhaps the biggest news is that EQT plans to whittle down its outstanding debt by $1.5 billion by selling its stake in Equitrans (formerly EQT Midstream), and by selling “noncore” assets outside of its wet gas operating area. That is, EQT is looking to sell its assets in southern West Virginia, Ohio and central Pennsylvania.
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Shale Insight Day 1: Fireside Chat with Toby Rice of EQT

Dave Spigelmyer (left) and Dan Rice

Shale Insight 2019, being held in Pittsburgh on Wednesday and Thursday, kicked off with a “fireside chat” between Marcellus Shale Coalition President Dave Spigelmyer and EQT CEO Toby Rice. While President Trump’s visit later in the day was certainly a highlight and focus (who doesn’t want to tell their kids and grand kids they saw the President?!), we would say, in all honesty, that the bigger highlight for those in the industry was the opportunity to hear Toby Rice. We would say his talk was more anticipated than Trump’s visit.
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Rice Boys’ First 100 Days at EQT – Where Do Things Stand?

Last Friday, Oct. 18, was the 100th day since Toby and Derek Rice took over the leadership at EQT, the country’s largest natural gas-producing company. The Rice boys won a proxy fight in July to elect a new board (and themselves) to lead the company (see Rice Bros. Win Proxy War to Control EQT – Toby Rice New CEO). Prior to winning, Toby Rice touted a “100-day plan” to turn the company around. How is that plan going?
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All of EQT’s Previous Top Management, Save One, is Now Gone

Donald M. “Blue” Jenkins

Beauty (and truth) is in the eye of the beholder. During the proxy fight earlier this year to control EQT’s board–and ultimately its management team–Toby Rice threw some sharp barbs including talk that EQT’s existing management was not up to the task of effectively running the company. The Rice boys said so, their board nominees said so, and Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) said so. There will be change (i.e. personnel change) at the “operational level” said ISS. Imagine our surprise when, after assuming control, Toby said there would *not* be a wholesale replacement of top management (see Toby Rice, EQT’s New CEO, is NOT Cleaning House re Top Management). We guess it depends on what you mean by “top management,” because as of now, seven of the then eight members of the senior management team at EQT are gone. What about the last survivor?
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