Ascent Resources 1Q: Refocused on Utica Dry Gas, Hits 2 Bcf/d

Ascent Resources, originally founded as American Energy Partners by gas legend Aubrey McClendon, is a privately-held company that focuses 100% on the Ohio Utica Shale. Ascent is Ohio’s largest natural gas producer and the 7th largest natural gas producer in the U.S. The company issued its first-quarter 2020 update last Friday. The company flew by producing 2 billion cubic feet equivalent per day (Bcfe/d) in 1Q, a new high.
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Chesapeake Energy Execs Paid $25 Million in Bonuses

Chesapeake Energy’s executives, including CEO Doug Lawler, have arguably made some bad decisions about the company–for years. The executives decided to convert Chessy from a gas-focused driller to an oil-focused driller, selling off its prized Utica Shale assets in Ohio to do so in 2018 (see Stop Press: Chesapeake Sells ALL of its Ohio Utica Assets for $2B). It was the wrong decision. Now that the oil market is crashing and burning, the company (with $9 billion in debt) is preparing to file for bankruptcy (see Chesapeake Energy Prepares Potential Ch. 11 Bankruptcy Filing). So what does the board do? The board has just rewarded its top executives, including Lawler, with $25 million in “incentives” to stick around for another 12 months! That takes the cake.
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Gulfport Energy Reports Q1 Loss, Shutting in Some Production

Last Friday Gulfport Energy, the third-largest (by number wells drilled) producer in the Ohio Utica Shale (210,000 acres) which concentrates its drilling in the Ohio Utica and the Oklahoma SCOOP plays, issued its first-quarter 2020 update. On paper, the company lost $517 million due to a one-time impairment charge (writing down of asset value) of $553 million. The company said on Friday it would “shut in a minimal amount production” over the next few months given the virus pandemic.
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Rice Says EQT in Unique Position, Looks to “Trim the Rosebush”

EQT Corporation, the largest natural gas producer in the country, turned in its first-quarter 2020 update yesterday. EQT produced an average of 4.2 billion cubic feet equivalent per day (Bcfe/d). The company reports generating $251 million in free cash flow but recorded a loss of $167 million due to “the loss on investment in Equitrans Midstream, the loss on exchange of long-lived assets, decreased operating revenues, increased impairment and expiration of leases and the loss on debt extinguishment.” Revenues were $1.1 billion for 1Q.
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EQT Tech Keeps Field Workers Safe from COVID-19 Virus

During yesterday’s quarterly update and conference call with analysts, EQT CEO Toby Rice took the time to outline his company’s efforts to keep field workers safe during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Not unsurprisingly, the “young Turks” who now run the company are using technology to help protect employees and contractors. EQT is ahead of the curve (way ahead of the state Dept. of Environmental Protection) in its contact tracing system to protect workers.
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Chevron Cuts Another 80 Jobs in M-U; Still Looking for Buyer

Last December Chevron announced it was writing down the value of its Marcellus/Utica assets and putting those assets up for sale (see Chevron Writes Down $5B+ in Marc/Utica Assets, Looks to Sell All). Prior to the pandemic lockdown, Chevron said it would begin cutting 320 jobs in the M-U beginning early April (see Chevron Cutting 320 Jobs in Marcellus/Utica Beginning April 6th). The cuts continue with another 80 employees getting a pink slip this week.
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Workers Begin Returning to Shell Cracker Plant Construction Site

Add another 300 workers returned to work at the mighty Shell ethane cracker construction site in Beaver County, PA this past Monday. This follows the lifting of a ban on construction activities by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf. With the extra 300 workers back on the job, some 800 workers are now active at the site, just 10% of the 8,000 working on-site prior to the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.
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Shell Leases CSX Truck/Rail Terminal Near Pittsburgh for Cracker

In September 2017 to much fanfare, CSX (railroad company) announced the opening of its new Pittsburgh Intermodal Rail Terminal in McKees Rocks, PA. The new facility is a truck and railroad transloading facility connecting southwestern Pennsylvania to markets across the country and around the world. CSX said at the time, “The Pittsburgh intermodal terminal is the last key component of CSX’s National Gateway Initiative, an $850 million public-private partnership designed to create a highly efficient network of double-stack rail and intermodal terminals, connecting East Coast markets to consumers, manufacturers and businesses in the Midwest.” That was then, this is now.
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Fire Sale: Shell Sells All Remaining PA M-U Assets for $541M

A major announcement yesterday from both Shell and National Fuel Gas Company (NFG) says Shell has cut a deal to sell all of its remaining Appalachian assets, which includes 450,000 acres and some 350 producing M-U shale wells along with pipeline assets, to NFG for $541 million. The deal is expected to close by the end of July.
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Pa. AG Forces Inflection Energy to Pay Big Green $40K re Accident

We won’t lie, this news turns us red hot with anger. The sleazy Pennsylvania Attorney General, Democrat Josh Shapiro (who wants to ingratiate himself with wacko leftists because he’s running for governor) has just forced Inflection Energy to pay $40,000 to three Big Green groups as penance for an accident that allowed frack wastewater to escape into an unnamed creek. Inflection had to cop to committing a crime and pay money to groups seeking to destroy the company. THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS!
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REX Pipe Asks FERC to Prevent Shipper from Breaking Contract

If an upstream (drilling) company with a long-term pipeline contract files for bankruptcy, does that give the company the right to break their pipeline contract? A major shipper on the Rockies Express (REX) pipeline, Ultra Resources, is expected to file for bankruptcy very soon. REX is concerned Ultra may claim its bankruptcy is a “get-out-of-the-contract free” card. REX has asked FERC to preemptively “assert its jurisdiction” as the arbiter of whether or not companies like Ultra can skip out of contracts.
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Range 1Q20: Drills Its Longest Shale Well Ever; Low-Cost Leader

Range Resources issued its first-quarter 2020 financial and operational update late last week. The company reported net income significantly increased to $145 million in 1Q20, up a staggering 10,117% from $1.4 million in 1Q19. Production averaged 2.3 billion cubic feet equivalent (Bcfe) per day, approximately 70% natural gas (the rest NGLs). Range says production in 2020 will stay about the same as 2019, yet they will only operate one drilling rig and one fracking crew in 2020 to maintain that level of production.
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Cabot 1Q20: Production Up 4%, Free Cash Flow, Curtailing Wells

Cabot Oil & Gas, which is one of, perhaps the best-run shale drillers in the Marcellus/Utica, issued its first-quarter 2020 update on Friday. Cabot generated $53.9 million in net income in 1Q20 and $49.8 million in free cash flow (down from $308.4 million in free cash flow from 1Q19). Cabot is one of (the only?) natural gas drillers with five consecutive years of generating free cash flow. What’s ahead for Cabot in 2020 and beyond?
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SWN 1Q20: Production Up 10%, Drilled 38 New Wells, $1.5B Loss

Southwestern Energy issued its first-quarter 2020 update on Friday. The company reported total production of 201 billion cubic feet equivalent (Bcfe) in 1Q20, which includes 1.7 Bcf/d of gas and 83,000 barrels per day of liquids. That’s up more than 10% from 1Q19’s 182 Bcfe, but down slightly from 4Q19’s 208 Bcfe. Southwestern reported a net loss of $1.5 billion, almost all of which was due to an impairment charge of $1.48 billion (in other words, it was a paper loss). The company made $594 million in profit in 1Q19.
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