Top 10 Shale Drillers in PA for 2020, by Number of Wells Drilled

The data crunchers at the Pittsburgh Business Times have been sifting through the data for 2020 and have composed a list of the “Largest Pennsylvania Shale Gas Drillers in 2020.” The PBT list ranks drillers by the number of wells drilled in PA for all time, including right up through the end of 2020. We resorted their list to reveal the number of wells “added” (drilled) in PA for 2020, to generate the following list of the top 10 drillers from 2020:
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Range 2020 Update: Drilled 67 Wells, Avg 2.2 Bcf/d, Lost $712M

Range Resources issued its fourth-quarter and full-year 2020 update yesterday. Range was the very first driller to sink a Marcellus well, back in 2004. The company currently owns ~460,000 acres in the M-U, most of it in the “wet gas” region which produces higher-profit NGLs. Range made $38 million in net profit during 4Q20, but lost $712 million for the entire year. However, the yearly loss is better than 2019 when Range lost $1.7 billion (heading in the right direction).
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Weekly Shale Drilling Permits for PA, OH, WV: Feb 15-19

All three M-U states received permits to drill new shale wells last week. Pennsylvania received 10 new permits. Ohio received 6 new permits. And West Virginia received 3 new permits.
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Weekly Shale Drilling Permits for PA, OH, WV: Feb 8-12

All three M-U states received permits to drill new shale wells last week. Pennsylvania received 16 new permits. Ohio received 3 new permits. And West Virginia received 4 new permits.
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PA DEP Shakes Down Range $294K for Unplugged Conventional Wells

The Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) is once again spinning an error by a major Marcellus driller, Range Resources, as some sort of evil plot to avoid and defraud the DEP. Due to a mistake by a former employee, Range misclassified 42 old conventional wells on acreage it owns and did not plug the wells in a timely (for DEP) fashion. The DEP has just clipped the company $294,000 for the mistake.
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Weekly Shale Drilling Permits for PA, OH, WV: Jan 25-29

All three M-U states received permits to drill new shale wells last week. Pennsylvania received 22 new permits. Ohio received 2 new permits. And West Virginia received 8 new permits.
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Weekly Shale Drilling Permits for PA, OH, WV: Jan 18-22

For the second week in a row, two of three M-U drilling states received permits to drill new shale wells. Pennsylvania scored 10 permits to drill new shale wells last week. Ohio received no new permits for Utica wells (second dry week in row). West Virginia received 4 new permits to drill new shale wells last week.
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Credit Loosens for M-U Drillers – Range, Antero Bonds Sell Out

We’ve noticed a flurry of new “notes” (i.e. bonds) being offered by Marcellus/Utica companies. We call notes/bonds IOUs. Typically a company will issue new notes (a promise to pay in the future, with interest) in order to retire older notes coming due. Notes are a form of self-financing by using debt instead of issuing new shares of stock (diluting existing shares). M-U drillers Range Resources and Antero Resources both quickly sold out of their recent note offerings at higher prices than originally requested. According to S&P analysts, the Range and Antero fast sellout is proof that credit is loosening for drillers in the M-U and in other shale plays.
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Weekly Shale Drilling Permits for PA, OH, WV: Jan 11-15

Two of three M-U drilling states received permits last week. Pennsylvania scored 14 permits to drill new shale wells. Ohio received no new permits for Utica wells. West Virginia received 5 new permits to drill new shale wells.
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US Well Locks in Long-Term E-Fracking Contracts with Range, EQT

In a pair of announcements earlier this week, U.S. Well Services announced it has signed new long-term deals with both Range Resources and EQT to supply “electric fracking” services. We told you in February 2020 that Range had signed on with U.S. Well Services to continue using its electric fracking service (see Range Resources Converts to Electric Fracking with US Well Serv.). A couple of months later EQT signed up with U.S. Well too (see EQT Converting One-Third of Completions to US Well E-Fracking). What’s the difference between traditional fracking and electric or e-fracking?
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Haynesville Shale Growing – Chief Competitor to Marcellus/Utica

The Marcellus/Utica is the #1 natural gas producing play in the country. Last month the M-U region produced 33.6 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d), according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s December Drilling Productivity Report (see DPR: Most Shale Plays, Incl. M-U, Continue Big Drop in Production). The second highest-producing region was the Permian, producing 16.9 Bcf/d. Third highest was the Haynesville at 11.3 Bcf/d. So why do we say the Haynesville is the chief competitor to M-U?
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M-U Drilling Co. Stocks Boomed in 2020, Positive Outlook 2021

As we entered 2020, the stock price for most Marcellus/Utica drillers was near or even at the lowest it had ever been (see Marcellus/Utica Drillers’ Stock Prices Near/At Historic Lows). Then the twin catastrophes of an oil price war (launched by Russia and Saudi Arabia) and a worldwide pandemic hit in March. As it turns out, the catastrophes ended up benefitting our shale drillers. Stock prices improved dramatically for a number of major gas drillers in the M-U after March.
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Weekly Shale Drilling Permits for PA, OH, WV: Dec 7-11

Last week Pennsylvania issued 21 new shale well drilling permits scattered across both northeast and southwest PA. Ohio issued 5 new shale well permits, all of them to the same company and the same well pad. West Virginia issued 3 new shale well permits, all in different counties.
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3Q Financial Health of Top Marcellus/Utica Drillers Troubling

Capital expense (capex) investments made by drillers in the Marcellus/Utica during the third quarter of 2020 were the lowest in at least six years according to a new report (full copy below) from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA). The report looks at nine of the top drillers in the M-U and finds collectively they cut capex investment by more than one-third in 3Q20 over 3Q19. And yet those same nine collectively spent a half-billion dollars more during 3Q on drilling and building projects than they earned in revenue from selling oil and gas. That’s troubling.
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M-U Companies Must “Walk the ESG Walk” to Get Investment Money

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On Wednesday, Hart Energy held its annual DUG (Developing Unconventional Gas) East event. This year the event was virtual instead of in-person at the convention center in Pittsburgh. One acronym seemed to be on the lips of nearly every speaker at this year’s event: ESG, which stands for “environment, social, governance.” Speakers said if Marcellus/Utica companies want to get new investment from the big money libs who now control the financial markets, they better “talk the talk and walk the walk” when it comes to ESG.
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Weekly Shale Drilling Permits for PA, OH, WV: Nov. 23-27

Last week Pennsylvania issued 12 new shale well drilling permits with a mix of permits issued in both the southwest (wet gas) and northeast (dry gas) regions of the state. Ohio issued 7 new permits, all of them except one in the same county (Jefferson). West Virginia was a goose egg–no new permits issued last week.
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