EQT “Streamlines” 196 Employees Right Out the Door

Ever wonder how it feels to be “streamlined” (laid off, fired) to help the company’s “bottom line”? We can assure you, it feels lousy. It feels like the end of the world has just happened. The future is now uncertain. Will you have to sell the house? Pull the kids out of school? File for food stamps (something you’ve never had to do)? Those are some of the thoughts that are swirling through the heads of 196 soon-to-be former employees of EQT after the latest round of “streamlining” and “workforce reductions.”
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Orion Drilling Sued EQT for Canceling 2 Rigs, EQT Won

EQT contracted two drilling rigs from Orion Drilling in 2014 that later, in 2015 and 2016, experienced trouble–like a 50,000-pound drilling block slamming to the ground kind of trouble. EQT canceled the contract and would no longer use the two rigs. Orion sued claiming breach of contract. A jury decided EQT was in the right by canceling the contract. Orion asked a judge to overturn the jury decision and order a new trial. Yesterday the judge refused, meaning the jury decision stands and Orion now owes EQT $2.8 million to cover EQT’s attorneys’ fees and costs. Ouch, that didn’t go as planned.
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Rumor: EQT About to Layoff 25% of Workforce, Maybe This Week

The Pittsburgh Business Times‘ ace report Paul Gough is reporting an exclusive: EQT is getting ready to fire (i.e. layoff) around 200 employees. “Multiple sources” have confirmed the plans to the PBT. Since the company employs around 800 employees, that represents 25% of the entire workforce. This comes on the heels of the company laying off over 100 people earlier this year, when the company was run by a different management team (see EQT Lays Off ~15% of Workforce – Fires Back at Rice Brothers).
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EQT, Southwestern Top Brass Discuss State of WV O&G, Shale

Toby Rice, CEO and president of EQT, and Clay Carrell, COO and EVP of Southwestern Energy, recently had a sit down discussion about the state of the shale industry in the Marcellus/Utica and its importance to the economy of West Virginia. The discussion happened at the recent West Virginia Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting and Business Summit. One surprising revelation for us: Carrell said Southwestern now spends most of its money on WV drilling.
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EQT Drops WV Lawsuit re Post-Prod. Deductions on Flat Rate Leases

The new leadership at the top of EQT continues to have a major impact on the company and its relationship with landowners and (in this case) entire states. Last year EQT launched an effort to overturn WV’s Senate Bill (SB) 360 (see EQT Still Fighting WV Minimum Royalty Law for Flat Rate Leases). The new SB 360 law disallows post-production deductions for flat rate leases, ensuring landowners receive a minimum 12.5% royalty. In April 2018 EQT sued to overturn the original law (from 1982) on which SB 360 rests–the law that guarantees a 12.5% royalty. Get rid of the original law, and the later law (disallowing deductions) disappears too. Last week EQT filed a motion to withdraw its lawsuit.
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EQT Settles Lawsuit Against Former Rice Employee

In February, prior to the July takover by Toby and Derek Rice, EQT filed lawsuits in both Pennsylvania and federal courts against two former employees it had fired, claiming the employees, before they were fired, had systematically copied confidential information from company computers and took it with them when they left (see EQT Claims 2 Fired Workers Stole Confidential Information). In March, EQT alleged the employees “stole” the information to help the Rice boys in their bid to take over EQT via a proxy war (see EQT Accuses Fired Employees of Colluding with Rice Boys). EQT just settled/dropped one of the two cases.
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Legal Sharks Circle in Class Action Against EQT/Rice 2017 Merger

In June MDN told you that the Cambridge (Massachusetts) Retirement System is not happy with their investment in EQT shares of stock, so they’re suing the company (see Mass. Retirement Fund Sues EQT for Plummeting Stock Price). They hope to turn the lawsuit into a class action on behalf of other shareholders. Now a group of seven law firms (six in addition to the lawyers for Cambridge) are all petitioning the court to make their firm the lead counsel on a class action lawsuit against EQT.
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Rice Addresses Belmont County, OH Landowners in Town Hall Mtg

EQT’s new CEO Toby Rice made the rounds and conducted four town hall-style meetings with landowners (see Road Trip! EQT CEO Toby Rice Talks to Landowners in Town Hall Mtgs). We found and brought you local media coverage for both the first and third meetings–in Waynesburg, PA and Bridgeport, WV, respectively (see EQT CEO Toby Rice Hits a Home Run with Landowner Meetings and EQT CEO Toby Rice Explains Combo Drilling at WV Town Hall Mtg). There was a meeting in between those two, held in Belmont County, OH. We’ve been accused of bias for not writing about that meeting.
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EQT CEO Toby Rice Explains Combo Drilling at WV Town Hall Mtg

Last week MDN told you that EQT CEO Toby Rice is conducting a series of four “town hall” style meetings with landowners in regions where the company drills (see EQT CEO Toby Rice Hits a Home Run with Landowner Meetings). The first meeting, held in Green County last Wednesday night, was a huge success. We also reported in a followup story that Toby mentioned EQT’s new drilling strategy to make money in a low gas price environment is called “combo development” (see EQT Plans to Make Money with $2/Mcf NatGas Price).
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EQT Plans to Make Money with $2/Mcf NatGas Price

For years MDN has observed that Cabot Oil & Gas is one of the few Marcellus/Utica drilling companies that can “spin straw into gold”–meaning it makes money on selling natural gas even when the price of that gas is in the basement (see Marcellus Driller Cabot Oil & Gas: Wall Street’s NatGas “Unicorn”). The new management at EQT aim to turn their company in a spinning-straw-into-gold company too. In a recent interview with the Pittsburgh Business Times, EQT CEO Toby Rice said his strategy for making $500 million in “free cash flow” within two years anticipates the price of natgas to be $2 per thousand cubic feet (Mcf).
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EQT CEO Toby Rice Hits a Home Run with Landowner Meetings

Yesterday MDN told you that new EQT CEO Toby Rice is in the midst of conducting four “town hall” style meetings with landowners–two this week and two next week (see Road Trip! EQT CEO Toby Rice Talks to Landowners in Town Hall Mtgs). By all accounts, the first meeting (Wednesday night in Waynesburg, PA) was a huge success. We’d say he hit the ball out of PNC Park.
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EQT Shifting Charitable Giving Away from City of Pittsburgh

Take note Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto: You can only crap on the shale industry for so long before it comes back to bite you on the backside. EQT CEO Toby Rice told a group of landowners Wednesday night that the EQT Foundation (EQT’s charitable giving arm), the third largest foundation by giving in Pittsburgh, is going to shift its donations away from Pittsburgh and to the counties/regions where the company drills.
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Road Trip! EQT CEO Toby Rice Talks to Landowners in Town Hall Mtgs

After a bruising proxy fight, Toby and Derek Rice (formerly from Rice Energy) won control of EQT, the largest natural gas-producing company in the U.S. (see Rice Bros. Win Proxy War to Control EQT – Toby Rice New CEO). Toby Rice has been CEO for barely a month. He announced late last week that he would conduct four “town hall” style meetings with landowners–two this week and two next week.
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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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EQT COO Gary Gould “Resigns” – Company Eliminates Position

After Toby and Derek Rice seized control of EQT following a bruising proxy fight to control the board, Toby was named CEO of the company. Not long after that, Toby went on record to say he wasn’t cleaning house (see Toby Rice, EQT’s New CEO, is NOT Cleaning House re Top Management). And yet, that’s what it looks like from our point of view. In addition to former CEO Rob McNally and company attorney Jonathan Lushko getting the boot, the company’s chief operating officer (COO), and at least one other senior official, have exited.
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Equitrans Wants to Remain Kissin’ Cousins with EQT; MVP 85% Done

Equitrans, formerly known as EQT Midstream (formerly a division of EQT), released its second quarter update yesterday. Among the things we learned: The Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) project is now 85% complete and will be done and online in mid-2020. EQT (the driller) remains committed to the MVP project and contrary to false rumors, EQT is not pulling out (it would cost them north of $3 billion to do so!). The project cost for MVP will be around $5 billion–a new high.
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