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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PA DCNR Leases SWPA Creek for $4K/Acre, 20% Royalties

It’s not often (these days) we come across a new instance of publicly-known leasing terms in the Marcellus/Utica. We like to highlight such cases when we see them. In Saturday’s Pennsylvania Bulletin, the state Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), the agency in charge of state-owned land, published details of a newly signed lease for 40.6 acres of creekbed in Greene County, PA. The DCNR got its standard $4,000 per acre signing bonus plus will get a 20% royalty from any gas produced. Who did they lease to? And why do we object to this practice so strenuously? To learn those details, you need an MDN subscription
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Appalachian Basin Upstream O&G Report: Less Drilling, EQT Rumors

Our good friend Charlie Schliebs, managing director of Stone Pier Capital, recently circulated a PowerPoint presentation/report from James Knobloch Petroleum Consultants that does an expert job at compiling current data and other valuable information on the status and trends for the oil and gas industry in the Appalachian Basin. Some of the juicy tidbits from the slide deck and accompanying commentary from Charlie: Drilling activity in the Marcellus/Utica *is* slowing down at the moment, but this downturn is different than previous downturns. Also, rumors are swirling about EQT. And, worries about competition coming from the Permian.
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EQT Looks to Sublease HQ Space – Leaving Downtown Pittsburgh?

EQT Corp. is offering to sublease “more space” at its downtown Pittsburgh headquarters building. Back in April, before the change in leadership at the top, EQT offered up to 46,000 square feet of space to lease at its massive 250,000 square foot building known as EQT Plaza, located at 625 Liberty Ave. (see EQT Looking for New HQ Building in Pittsburgh). At the time the company was rumored to be looking for a new, smaller HQ somewhere in downtown Pittsburgh, which we chalked up to a negotiating tactic. The rumor now is that EQT is looking to lease even more than the original 46K sq ft, and possibly leave downtown Pittsburgh.
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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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