Retired Range VP of Marcellus Heads to Huntley & Huntley as COO

The man largely responsible for the huge success of Range Resources in drilling in the Marcellus Shale, Range’s former senior vice president in charge of the Marcellus, John Applegath, is heading to Huntley & Huntley to helm the drilling program there. Applegath recently retired from Range, but he’s not ready for the pasture just yet! He’s jazzed to be working with the much smaller H&H and the team they’ve assembled, to drill in the Pittsburgh area. H&H has roughly 100,000 leased acres in southwest PA.
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Range Resources Helps Save Pretty Butterflies in SWPA

Can fracking save butterflies? According to California University of Pennsylvania’s Supervisor of the Fish & Wildlife, you betcha. You heard how important “pollinators” are, right? We immediately think bees when we hear the word pollinator. But monarch butterflies, a species whose population has dropped 90% since 1990, is also a important pollinator. In places across southwestern PA habitats for the monarch have disappeared, long before shale drilling showed up. Range Resources is helping replant vegetation that monarchs love. And it’s having a big impact. Range’s efforts are not just “throw a few seeds here and there” for publicity. Range is working hard and “willing to do it right.”
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Range 3Q18: Record High Production, Swings to Profit

Range Resources released its third quarter 2018 update earlier this week. The company shows making a $48.5 million profit for the quarter, verses losing $127.7 million in 3Q17. Quite a swing into the black! Some of the credit goes to Rover Pipeline. Range has reserved 400 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) on Rover, which is now up and running. Range is ramping up production and expects to use all of their 400 MMcf/d capacity by the end of 2018. Production in 3Q18 averaged a record high of 2.267 billion cubic feet equivalent per day (Bcfe/d), an increase of 14% compared to 3Q17.
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Range Gets $300M for 1% Royalty on Washington County Production

Yesterday Range Resources, the very first company to sink a Marcellus Shale well back in 2004, announced it has cut a deal to “sell a proportionately reduced 1% overriding royalty in its Washington County, Pennsylvania leases for gross proceeds of $300 million.” Yeah. What, exactly, does that mean? More high finance stuff. The deal, as we try to understand it, reminds us of “factoring” that we learned about in our college business classes. You know, selling the money you will receive in the future from accounts receivable for a lump sum today? We think of this deal as kind of like that. Not exactly, but kind of.
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By the Numbers – Revenue & Profitability for M-U Drillers

The expert analysts at RBN Energy have just published their “fourth and final” in a series of posts looking in detail at E&Ps (exploration & production companies, or “drillers”). One of the groups of E&Ps they examine are “gas-weighted” E&Ps–or drillers who mostly extract natural gas. In looking through the list, you immediately realize every one of them has operations in the Marcellus and/or Utica Shale region. Yes, a few also have operations in other plays, but they all have at least some operations here. The real value in the article is an accompanying spreadsheet comparing various financial metrics (apples to apples)–things like total revenue, lifting costs, production costs, and “pre-tax income,” meaning profitability. How do our drillers compare with each other?
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Range Resources Sued by PA Landowner re Post-Production Deductions

In the absence of a guaranteed minimum royalty in Pennsylvania–an issue which continues to divide landowners and drillers–individual landowners are left to litigate in order to get what they are fairly due. Such litigation is time consuming and expensive, and without a certain outcome, which is why most landowners don’t do it. In Washington County, PA a couple who signed a lease with Range Resources have just filed a lawsuit against Range in county court alleging Range violated the terms of the lease by deducting post-production expenses.
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Peters Twp Votes to Allow Fracking Under Town Property, Again

Peters Township, the most populous township in Washington County, PA, is one of the seven selfish towns that sued the state in 2012 over the zoning provisions in the then-new Act 13 law, eventually winning at the PA Supreme Court level (see PA Supreme Court Rules Against State/Drillers in Act 13 Case). The Act 13 victory gave townships like Peters the right to pass local zoning ordinances that restrict, but don’t outright ban, Marcellus/Utica drilling. In September 2016, Peters decided to officially screw Marcellus drillers. Town council passed a drilling ordinance that says drilling is ONLY allowed in areas zoned for industrial uses, which rules out areas zoned for agricultural uses, where most drilling happens (see Peters Twp Gives the Middle Finger to Drillers One Final Time). Even the theoretical drilling that would happen in industrial areas, a grand total of 138 acres in the township, would have to be a “conditional use” with loads of permits and reviews. In other words–don’t bother drilling in Peters. So we found it quite ironic that in May 2017 Peters Township Council threw their lordly “principles” right out the window by signing a five-year lease with EQT allowing drilling under (not on) some of the township’s own land, something they’ve denied every other landowner in the township (see Peters Township Votes to Allow Fracking Under Town Property). They’ve just done it again. Peters Township Council voted Monday to approve a lease with Range Resources for the very same terms as they agreed to with EQT. This time the land is located under Peters Lake Park. That’s right, drilling and fracking under a lake, in Peters Township, where the town can get away with it, but not private citizens. How much will Peters get this time? Keep reading for the answer, available only on MDN…
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Range 2Q18: Pipeline Outages Hurt; Ponders Sale of LA Acreage

Range Resources, the very first company to sink a Marcellus well back in 2004, held their second quarter 2018 update conference call with analysts yesterday, after publishing the official 2Q18 update on Monday. On the conference call, Range’s senior VP of operations Dennis Degner admitted that two different pipeline outages in 2Q18 hurt. The Leach XPress was shut down from June 7 to July 15 following an explosion. That resulted in Range having to find “in-basin” markets for 300 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) of natural gas. They did it, but it means they didn’t get as much money for the gas as they would have. The second outage was the Mariner East 1 pipeline, which flows 40,000 barrels per day of Range’s NGLs (ethane and propane) to Philadelphia for export. ME1 was down for nearly two months in 2Q18 when a portion of the pipeline was exposed from a sinkhole developing due to nearby Mariner East 2 drilling activity. Again, they found other markets at a lower cost. Also interesting were comments by Range CEO Jeff Ventura who said the company is looking to sell some of its Marcellus assets in northeast and southwest PA this year. Ventura said later this year/early next year they will make a decision about possibly selling their Louisiana assets, which have been underperforming. It was only two years ago that Range paid $4.4 billion for those assets (see Range Resources Buys Louisiana Driller in Deal Worth $4.4B). Marcellus/Utica production hit 1.876 billion cubit feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2Q18…
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Activist Investor Pressures Range to Change Board, Mgmt Structure

What constitutes an “activist investor” and what constitutes a “corporate raider?” Depends on whom you ask. We address the semantics issue below in more detail. The reason we raise it is because of some big, breaking news: Activist investor SailingStone Capital Partners is forcing Range Resources to do some things Range may not prefer to do. Nearly two years ago, in August 2016, MDN told you that investment firm SailingStone Capital had purchased 11% of Range Resources stock (see SailingStone Capital Buys 11% of Range Stock, Gets Board Seat). They got a board seat out of their investment, and the right to nudge Range in a certain direction, to some degree. Although we were suspicious, at the time it appeared SailingStone was more of a partner assisting Range rather than what we call a corporate raider. SailingStone now owns 17% of Range’s outstanding shares, and they are throwing their weight around. In an announcement made yesterday, we learn that SailingStone has pressured Range into granting them two more seats on the board–for a total of three (out of ten). Is it fair that SailingStone controls 30% of the board but only owns 17% of the company? SailingStone has also forced Range CEO Jeff Ventura to relinquish his title (and power) as Chairman of the Board, appointing a new “independent” Chairman. SailingStone is also forcing Range to hire a new outsider as executive VP, to “supplement and strengthen the management team.” Is SailingStone “helping” Range make changes that Range truly needs to make to benefit shareholders? Or is there something more nefarious going on?…
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EQT & Range Recent Cutbacks Won’t Affect Production

Sources talking to the Pittsburgh Business Times have tipped the paper that EQT recently idled something like five fracking crews, and that Range Resources recently idled a top hole drilling rig. Oh oh. Is this an early sign that the gas patch is slowing down again? Are we heading into a downturn? Don’t panic. Although there has been some scaling back, both companies say activity levels and most importantly, production levels, are not jeopardized by their actions. Instead, the moves are about “saving money” and “increasing efficiencies.” The truth is, as technology and strategies continue to improve over time, drillers don’t have to drill as many holes in order to produce the same or more than they produce now. The companies in the Marcellus/Utica patch are getting leaner–more efficient at what they do, and how they do it. Yeah, it sucks when local jobs get whacked due to “efficiencies,” but ultimately it’s a good sign. It means the companies are getting stronger and will stick around for the long term–providing jobs and economic benefits in the communities where they work for years to come…
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News from DUG East: Record-Breaking Wells, Long Laterals & More

One of two major Marcellus/Utica events that happens each year in Pittsburgh, Hart Energy’s DUG East Conference, was held this week. (The other is Shale Insight, held in the fall.) We’ve covered a variety of news coming out of the DUG East event. Unfortunately we could not be there in person this year. By all accounts, a lot of great information was shared. We spotted two articles from different sources that do a good job of rounding up highlights from this week’s DUG. Hart’s own Exploration & Production magazine chronicles news from Eclipse Resources, whose CEO (Ben Hulburt) says the company expects to break more lateral records this year. Dennis Degner from Range Resources also talked about long laterals, and strategy. Degner said Range balances other factors like pipeline takeaway capacity and service costs. Also appearing on the stage were smaller/private M-U operators, like Northeast Natural Energy, who also shared some great insights. Below is a good roundup of the news coming from DUG this week, from a couple of sources…
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Financial Checkup for Marcellus/Utica Drillers

RBN Energy, headed by founder Rusty Braziel (co-founder of Bentek Energy), is, in our opinion, the premier oil and gas analytics firm out there. Smart people working at RBN. And they offer up some amazing content on their blog site–for free! At least it’s free for a while, then it goes behind a paywall. A few days ago RBN published a blog post on the financial health for the 44 major publicly-traded U.S. exploration and production companies (drillers). RBN groups them into three categories: Oil-Weighted, Diversified, and Gas-Weighted. We found the Gas-Weighted list of 10 companies and the information revealed about them to be fascinating and worth studying. Each of the companies has major operations in the Marcellus/Utica–some of them totally focused on our region. Among the data points shared: revenue, production costs, lifting costs and more. We think of the following as a handy financial health scorecard/checkup for 10 of the biggest drillers in the M-U, including Antero Resources, Cabot Oil & Gas, Chesapeake Energy, CNX Resources, EQT, Gulfport Energy, National Fuel Gas (Seneca Resources), Range Resources, Southwestern Energy, and Ultra Petroleum…
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Lib Group Didn’t Force Range to Consider Global Warming After All

Sometimes there are happy endings! Two weeks ago MDN reported that a so-called church, the Unitarian Universalist Association (people who believe in everything, consequently they believe in nothing) had purchased $2,000 worth of Range Resources stock in order to propose a resolution to all shareholders at the annual meeting that forces Range to publish a report on how evil the company is for causing global warming (i.e. force the company to produce a report on their efforts to scale back methane emissions). We told you, based on reports, that the idiotic measure passed by 50.25% (see Liberal Groups Force Range, Anadarko to Consider Global Warming). Except it didn’t pass. The original count did not include “abstention” votes. An abstention is when someone intentionally or unintentionally does not vote. By law, abstentions are considered a “no” vote on shareholder resolutions. When the abstentions were added to the count, it tipped the scale in the other direction, meaning Range dodged a bullet–this year…
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Liberal Groups Force Range, Anadarko to Consider Global Warming

We get tired of saying it, but perhaps we should never get tired of saying that according to the most reliable methods of tracking temperatures on earth (by satellite), THERE IS NO GLOBAL WARMING. The only way global warming alarmists get away with claiming the earth is heating up is by using doctored computer algorithms. The actual testing and measurement of temps doesn’t show we’re heating up! And yet the manipulators who persist in using scare tactics that mankind is somehow causing the earth to heat up catastrophically by burning fossil fuels and leaking methane into the atmosphere, have just claimed a couple of more scalps in their efforts to shut down the fossil fuel industry. A so-called church, the Unitarian Universalist Association (people who believe in everything, consequently they believe in nothing) bought $2,000 worth of Range Resources stock and proposed a resolution to all shareholders at the annual meeting that forces Range to publish a report on how evil the company is for causing global warming (i.e. produce a report on Range’s efforts to scale back methane emissions). The measure passed by 50.25%. A group called As You Sow bought Anadarko stock and floated a resolution instructing the company to produce a report on how mythical man-made global warming will affect the company financially as it will no doubt have to scale back its exploration and production. That resolution passed by 53%. These groups, with innocent-sounding names, are NOT innocent. They are far left, liberal groups that have snookered shareholders into voting against their own best interests by harming the very companies they invest in, forcing those companies, ultimately, to stop drilling. All in the name of “climate change” (i.e. global warming)…
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Average Workers at Top Marcellus Drillers Make $100K+ Salary

The average worker who works for producers (i.e. drillers) in the Pennsylvania Marcellus makes among the highest average salaries of any industry in the state. Looking at six of the state’s top Marcellus drillers, the average worker made $113,610 last year! That’s an average taken from workers at CNX Resources, Range Resources, Chesapeake Energy, Southwestern Energy, EQT and Cabot Oil & Gas. We hasten to add not “all workers” but “average” or “median” workers–meaning there are people who make below that number and people who make well above that number. It also means the majority of Marcellus workers in those companies made at least $100,000 per year. Those working for oilfield services (OFS) companies like Halliburton, Baker Hughes and others didn’t fare quite as well, making an average of $52,000-$80,000 per year. Still, hey, it ain’t bad money! Here’s a look at the average wage for top Marcellus drillers and the OFS companies that serve them…
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Investor Owning 3% of Range Stock Voting Against Mgmt Compensation

Although the average employee at Range Resources made $123,500 last year (see today’s lead story, Average Worker at Top Marcellus Drillers Makes $100K+ Salary), those in upper management at Range made considerably more. We don’t have the 2017 number, but in 2016, Range CEO Jeff Ventura made $9.8 million (see EQT Pay Dispute – Comparing CEO Salaries for Top M-U Firms). Ventura’s salary works out to be 79 times the average Range worker’s salary–actually far better than the average for all industries which averages 140 times as much. Still, not everyone is happy with the what Range’s upper management gives themselves. A significant investor in Range, Stelliam Investment Management, which owns around 3% of all outstanding Range stock, has issued a press release and an open letter to the board to say they intend to vote against Range’s proposed management compensation plan at today’s annual meeting. Stelliam says over the past four years management compensation has “remained generous” while during the same period the company’s stock price has slipped a huge 80% in value. So who is Stelliam, and does their vote of no confidence create any issues for Range management?…
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