NY State Retirement Fund Invests More Money in Fracking Co.

We found this story illustrative of the rank hypocrisy so prevalent in our beloved home state of New York. Even the most cursory follower of shale energy knows that our corrupt governor, Andrew Cuomo, decided to ban shale fracking in the Empire State in 2015 (see It’s Official: Cuomo Bans Economic Opportunity & Prosperity in NY). Since that time Cuomo has acted like the tin-pot, despot dictator he is, by moving to block pipelines coming into the state that carry fracked natural gas (see NY Gov. Cuomo Refuses to Grant Permits for Constitution Pipeline and Cuomo’s Corrupt NY DEC Blocks NFG Northern Access Pipeline Permit). Cuomo recently lost one such battle, attempting to block a 7.8 mile pipeline from being built to a gas-fired electric plant in Orange County (see Millennium Begins Building 7.8 Mile Pipeline in Orange County, NY). Instead of using evil, filthy, vile “fossil fuels” like natural gas, Cuomo prefers to shower billions to his friends who promise they will bring solar and wind to the state. Cuomo has implemented a policy that demands 50% of New York’s electric supplies come from solar and wind by 2030–a delusional fantasy. The New York State Common Retirement Fund is the state’s ginormous pension fund for state workers (including public school teachers)–with some $140 billion of investments. Anti-drilling New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is the sole trustee in control of the fund, overseeing its investments. The fund invests in plenty of oil and gas companies–i.e. frackers–which we were once again reminded of when spotting a news clip that the Fund has just increased its holdings in PDC Energy–a shale fracker…
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Utica Production in Washington County, OH Tumbles, PDC Pulls Out

Washington County, OH, along the southeastern tip of active Utica drilling, has never been known as a hotbed of Utica drilling. However, there is at least some drilling in the county. In 2016 and the first quarter of 2017 there were eight (8) active Utica wells producing hydrocarbons–gas and oil and NGLs. Those eight wells are owned by three companies: Edgemarc Energy, Protege Energy and PDC Energy. PDC, you may recall, announced in May that it has put all of its remaining Utica assets up for sale, including wells/land in Washington County, so it can use the proceeds to drill for oil in Texas and Colorado (see PDC Energy Pulling Out of the Utica – Selling Acreage & Wells). What does that mean for Washington County? Because no new drilling has taken place, production is, understandably, falling. In 1Q17 oil production fell 39% and natural gas production fell 20% from the the previous quarter. That trend will continue unless/until new drilling happens. Here’s an update on Washington County, OH and on PDC Energy pulling out…
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PDC Energy Pulling Out of the Utica – Selling Acreage & Wells

PDC Energy, a driller in the Wattenberg Field in Colorado and the Utica in Ohio, paused their Utica drilling program in 2015 (see PDC Energy Pushes Pause Button on OH Utica Drilling for 2015). In December 2015, the company announced they would restart Utica drilling in 2016 with plans to drill five wells (see PDC Energy to Restart OH Drilling in 2016, Drilling 5 Utica Wells). Indeed they did reactivate their program, in a much-scaled-back fashion, last year. However, another shale play has turned the head of PDC–the Permian Basin in Texas, an oil play. When PDC released their plans for 2017 in December, they said they would drill two more Utica wells in the second half of 2017 and spend just $18 million to do it, spending the bulk of their money in the Permian and Wattenberg (see PDC Releases 2017 Plans – Drilling Just 2 Utica Wells in 2H17). Then in March, the plan to drill those two Utica wells this year got mothballed (see PDC Changes Course, Delays More Utica Drilling in 2017). Now we know why. Buried in their first quarter 2017 update (released last Friday), PDC has announced they are putting their Utica assets up for sale, so they can concentrate on the Wattenburg and Delaware Basin (i.e. Permian)…
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PDC Changes Course, Delays More Utica Drilling in 2017

PDC Energy, a driller in the Wattenberg Field in Colorado and the Utica in Ohio, paused their Utica drilling program in 2015 (see PDC Energy Pushes Pause Button on OH Utica Drilling for 2015). In December 2015, the company announced they would restart Utica drilling in 2016 with plans to drill five wells (see PDC Energy to Restart OH Drilling in 2016, Drilling 5 Utica Wells). Indeed they did reactivate their program, in a much-scaled-back fashion, in 2016. One of the Utica wells PDC drilled, the “Neff” well, came online earlier than expected and began producing in 2Q16 (see PDC Energy 2Q16: Utica Program Active Again, Neff Well Online). However, another shale play has turned the head of PDC–the Permian Basin in Texas. PDC released their plans for 2017 in December and said they plan to drill two more Utica wells in the second half of 2017 and spend just $18 million to do it, spending the bulk of their money in the Permian and Wattenberg (see PDC Releases 2017 Plans – Drilling Just 2 Utica Wells in 2H17). The plan to drill two Utica wells this year is now mothballed. PDC released their full 2016 update yesterday and as part of that update, says they have now delayed any Utica drilling in 2017, preferring instead to chase oil in Texas and Colorado…
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PDC Releases 2017 Plans – Drilling Just 2 Utica Wells in 2H17

PDC Energy logoPDC Energy, a driller in the Wattenberg Field in Colorado and the Utica in Ohio, paused their Utica drilling program in 2015 (see PDC Energy Pushes Pause Button on OH Utica Drilling for 2015). Last December the company announced they would restart Utica drilling in 2016 with plans to drill five wells (see PDC Energy to Restart OH Drilling in 2016, Drilling 5 Utica Wells). Indeed they did reactivate their program, in a much-scaled-back fashion, this past year. One of the Utica wells PDC drilled, the “Neff” well, came online earlier than expected and began producing in 2Q16 (see PDC Energy 2Q16: Utica Program Active Again, Neff Well Online). However, another shale play has turned the head of PDC–the Delaware Basin in Texas. PDC released their plans for 2017 yesterday. There is a brief mention about the Utica–they plan to drill two more wells in the second half of 2017 and spend just $18 million to do it. Both wells will be drilled in Guernsey County, OH. Here’s a preview of what’s ahead for PDC in 2017…
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PDC Energy Floats New Stocks & Bonds to Help Pay for Acquisition

PDC Energy logoPDC Energy, a driller in the Wattenberg Field in Colorado and the Utica in Ohio, paused their Utica drilling program in 2015 (see PDC Energy Pushes Pause Button on OH Utica Drilling for 2015). In December the company announced they would restart Utica drilling in 2016 with plans to drill five wells (see PDC Energy to Restart OH Drilling in 2016, Drilling 5 Utica Wells). In early August, PDC released their second quarter 2016 update. There are a few mentions of the Utica in the update. It appears the Utica program is once again up and running. In fact, one of the Utica wells they’ve drilled, the PDC “Neff” well, has come online earlier than expected and began producing in 2Q16 (see PDC Energy 2Q16: Utica Program Active Again, Neff Well Online). However, another shale play has turned the head of PDC–the Delaware Basin in Texas. Later in August PDC announced it had purchased two drillers in the Delaware for $1.5 billion (see PDC Energy’s Head Turned by Another Pretty Shale Play). If you buy other companies, you need cash. Right on cue PDC has announced they are floating new shares of stocks and new bonds (debt) to help pay for the pretty new shale play that turned the company’s head…
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PDC Energy’s Head Turned by Another Pretty Shale Play

PDC Energy logoPDC Energy, a driller in the Wattenberg Field in Colorado and the Utica in Ohio, paused their Utica drilling program in 2015 (see PDC Energy Pushes Pause Button on OH Utica Drilling for 2015). In December the company announced they would restart Utica drilling in 2016 with plans to drill five wells (see PDC Energy to Restart OH Drilling in 2016, Drilling 5 Utica Wells). Earlier this month, PDC released their second quarter 2016 update. There are a few mentions of the Utica in the update. It appears the Utica program is once again up and running. In fact, one of the Utica wells they’ve drilled, the PDC “Neff” well, has come online earlier than expected and began producing in 2Q16 (see PDC Energy 2Q16: Utica Program Active Again, Neff Well Online). However, another shale play has turned the head of PDC–the Delaware Basin in Texas. Last week PDC announced it has purchased two drillers in the Delaware for $1.5 billion. Does that mean PDC will give up on the Utica?…
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PDC Energy 2Q16: Utica Program Active Again, Neff Well Online

PDC Energy logoPDC Energy, a driller in the Wattenberg Field in Colorado and the Utica in Ohio, paused their Utica drilling program in 2015 (see PDC Energy Pushes Pause Button on OH Utica Drilling for 2015). In December the company announced they would restart Utica drilling in 2016 with plans to drill five wells (see PDC Energy to Restart OH Drilling in 2016, Drilling 5 Utica Wells). Last week PDC released their second quarter 2016 update. There are a few mentions of the Utica in the update. It appears the Utica program is once again up and running. In fact, one of the Utica wells they’ve drilled, the PDC “Neff” well, has come online earlier than expected and began producing in 2Q16…
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PDC Energy Gets More than Asked For in New Stock Offering

Last week MDN told you that PDC Energy, a driller with operations in Ohio’s Utica Shale, floated another 5+ million shares of company stock looking to raise ~$263 million (see PDC Energy Offers 5.15M Shares of New Stock, Wants to Get $263M). In what is perhaps a good sign that investors haven’t abandoned drillers, PDC actually got $296.8 million, floating nearly 6 million shares. Seems there are still investors willing to back nasty, evil, vile fossil fuel companies. Who knew?…
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PDC Energy Offers 5.15M Shares of New Stock, Wants to Get $263M

Something we’ve noticed about energy companies offering more stock as a way of generating cash. Almost always they issue one press release to announce they are offering X shares of new stock. And a few hours later they issue a second press release announcing they’ve “upsized” the offering–offering more shares. Are they trying to give the impression that there was “just so much darned demand we simply had to offer even more shares to meet all the demand”? That’s what it looks like. Of course it’s just a marketing tactic (if you ask us). They all seem to do it. The latest example is from PDC Energy, a driller in the Wattenberg Field in Colorado and the Utica in Ohio. PDC paused its Utica drilling program in 2015 with plans to do a little more drilling in the Utica in 2016. PDC issued its pair of press releases yesterday, the first saying they will float 4 million new shares of stock, the second saying that number was upsized and they would instead offer 5.15 million shares with hopes to raise $263 million…
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PDC Energy 2015: $68M Loss, Production Up 65% Y/Y

PDC Energy, a driller in the Wattenberg Field in Colorado and the Utica in Ohio, paused their Utica drilling program in 2015 (see PDC Energy Pushes Pause Button on OH Utica Drilling for 2015). In December the company announced they would restart Utica drilling in 2016 with plans to drill five wells (see PDC Energy to Restart OH Drilling in 2016, Drilling 5 Utica Wells). On Monday PDC released their fourth quarter and full year 2015 financial and operating results. PDC grew production in 2015, substantially, over 2014 (up 65%). Although the company lost money in 2015, as most drillers did, it wasn’t all that much compared to others. In 2014 PDC made $155 million in profit. In 2015, they lost $68 million. With others losing over $1 billion, $68 million is a comparative drop in the bucket. We spot no mention of when they will restart Utica drilling. Here’s the update from PDC…
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Energy Investor Jennison Ups Ownership in PDC Energy

PDC Energy, with leased acreage in the Ohio Utica Shale, paused their Utica drilling program in 2015 but recently announced plans to restart that program and drill five wells in 2016 (see PDC Energy to Restart OH Drilling in 2016, Drilling 5 Utica Wells). So when we spotted a notice that investment firm Jennison Associates had boosted its stake in PDC, we noticed. Anything that may affect a Marcellus/Utica driller is of interest to us. Jennison has upped their investment in PDC and now owns 6.95% of PDC Energy stock worth $147,721,000. That’s a far cry from the 42.8% of Rice Energy stock owned by Alpha Natural Resources (see today’s companion story about that deal). Typically when investors increase their stake to the 7-8% range, they begin asserting their influence on the company–getting a board member elected, etc. Not always, and not every investor pursues that course of action. But it’s worth watching for, which is why we bring you this news about Jennison’s investment in PDC…
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PDC Energy to Restart OH Drilling in 2016, Drilling 5 Utica Wells

PDC Energy, with leased acreage in the Ohio Utica Shale, paused their Utica drilling program in 2015 (see PDC Energy Pushes Pause Button on OH Utica Drilling for 2015). PDC issued their preliminary drilling budget for 2016 yesterday. As in 2015, the company’s focus will largely focus on the Wattenberg Gas Field, part of the Denver Shale basin in central Colorado. PDC plans to invest $440 million to drill somewhere between 135-160 Wattenberg wells in 2016. However, they also will un-pause their Utica program. PDC says they will spend $34 million to drill and bring online five new Utica wells in 2016…
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PDC Energy’s CFO Gysle Shellum Sells $297K Worth of Co Stock

PDC Energy is primarily focused on drilling new shale wells in Colorado’s Wattenberg Field. However, they do have a small operation in the Ohio Utica Shale as well. At last check-in PDC was contemplating whether or not to restart their paused Utica drilling program (see PDC May Un-pause OH Utica Shale Drilling Earlier than Expected). We believe they have reactivated their Utica program based on the fact they received permits to drill four wells from May through August 2015, according to the latest volume of the 2015 Marcellus and Utica Shale Databook. Today we told you in a related story that Toby Rice, President & COO of Rice Energy, recently purchased $100,000 worth of his own company’s stock. PDC Energy’s Chief Financial Officer, Gysle Shellum, has just sold $297,000 worth of his company’s stock…
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PDC May Un-pause OH Utica Shale Drilling Earlier than Expected

unpause buttonPDC Energy announced at the end of 2014 they would not drill any new wells in the Ohio Utica Shale in 2015 (see PDC Energy Pushes Pause Button on OH Utica Drilling for 2015). Not long after that, PDC announced early results from an Ohio Utica well pad they named (we kid you not) “Dynamite” (see PDC Energy’s Interesting 2014 – “Dynamite” in the Utica). Kind of a twisted sense of humor, no? Because of the results PDC continues to get from the Dynamite well pad, they told analysts on an earnings call earlier this month they may un-pause drilling in the Utica sooner than anticipated. When? If the price of crude oil hits $70 per barrel (right now it’s just shy of $60/barrel), PDC has said it will likely begin drilling again in the Utica. However, even if the price is in the mid- to high-sixties, that may be enough to tempt them to re-enter the Utica, given their “Dynamite” results…
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