9 Big M-U Companies Lost $2.6 Billion in Value During 1Q20

A word you will likely see a lot more of in quarterly updates by oil and gas drillers across the country is the word “impairment.” It’s an accounting term that means the value of an asset (leased acreage or wells) is adjusted, down, to reflect a company’s best guess as to how much revenue that asset can generate. We wrote about impairments back in 2015 (see A Basic Guide to Understanding “Impairments” for Marcellus/Utica). Largely because of impairments, nine of the biggest Marcellus/Utica drillers cumulatively lost $2.6 billion in value (on paper) during the first quarter of this year. However, two of the nine had no impairments. And one of the nine made a profit in 1Q20. Can you guess which one?
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Tioga County, PA Excited About Shell Asset Sale to NFG

In early May Shell and National Fuel Gas Company (NFG) announced a deal for Shell 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 (see Fire Sale: Shell Sells All Remaining PA M-U Assets for $541M). The deal is expected to close by the end of July. Most of the assets are located in Tioga County, PA. Folks in Tioga County are excited that NFG (via its drilling subsidiary Seneca Resources) will soon ramp up drilling on the Shell acreage. The county is rolling out the red carpet.
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M-U Drillers See New Interest from Bond (Debt) Investors

Wow! What a difference three months can make. In January Moody’s Investors Service downgraded EQT Corporation’s bonds to “junk” status (see Moody’s Downgrades EQT Debt to Junk Status Following Write-Down). A few weeks later Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings downgraded the credit rating for six of the biggest Marcellus/Utica drillers, including EQT (see S&P Downgrades Credit Rating for Six Big Marcellus/Utica Drillers). Once thought risky and speculative, investors seem to have changed their minds about investing in M-U debt. They’re taking a second look.
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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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NFG 1Q20: Production Up 24%, Dropping Back to 1 Rig

Late last week National Fuel Gas Company (NFG), the parent company of Marcellus/Utica driller Seneca Resources, issued its second-quarter (everyone else’s first quarter) financial and operational update. The company’s natural gas production increased 10.7 billion cubic feet (Bcf), up 24%, due primarily to production from new Marcellus and Utica wells completed and connected to sales. The production increase is all the more impressive because Seneca curtailed (shut-in) 2.7 Bcf of natural gas production during the quarter due to lower spot prices at sales points in Pennsylvania.
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Seneca Resources “Cracks the Code” on PA Utica; Cuts Coming in ’20

Late last week National Fuel Gas Company (NFG), the parent company of Marcellus/Utica driller Seneca Resources, issued its first quarter (everyone else’s fourth quarter) financial and operational update. NFG CEO and President Dave Bauer proclaimed, “Our team has done a great job cracking the code on our Utica development program” in Tioga County, PA. However, because of the ongoing pricemageddon with natgas prices in the basement, Seneca President John McGinnis said the company will drop to running a single rig for the balance of 2020.
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Seneca Resources: Productive 2019, Reducing Rig Count in 2020

Seneca Resources, the drilling arm of National Fuel Gas Company, does most of its exploration and production in central and western Pennsylvania (although it also does some drilling in California). A spokesman for Seneca recently went on the record to talk about the company’s prolific 2019 production, with a forecast for 2020 (production is going UP). However, the company plans to ax one of its three rigs in 2020.
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Big M-U Drillers Slash 2020 Spending a Collective 25%

For months MDN has brought you bits and pieces of news from individual drillers, detailing plans to cut back on spending for new drilling in the Marcellus/Utica in 2020. It’s not just happening in the M-U–it’s happening across the country. The experts at RBN Energy have a terrific new post that pulls information about major drillers scaling back into one place. They analyze spending by three different groups of drillers: oil-focused, diversified, and gas-focused drillers. In the third category, all but one of the gas-focused drillers have major operations in the M-U. The stats are sobering. As a collective group, M-U gas drillers have pledged to cut their 2020 budgets 25% from the already-lower spending that happened this year. Ouch.
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NFG 4Q – Low Gas Price Good for Customers, Not for Company

National Fuel Gas Company (NFG), headquartered in Western New York (near Buffalo), is the only remaining fully integrated energy company left in the Marcellus/Utica region–maybe in the country. Meaning they are the only company that drills for the energy (oil and gas), pipelines the energy they discover to market (midstream), and is also the utility company that delivers the energy to end users. Big company. Important company. NFG’s drilling arm is called Seneca Resources, and their pipeline/midstream arm is Empire Pipeline. Last Friday NFG issued its quarterly (and full year) update. Both Seneca and Empire got talked about.
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NFG’s New CEO David Bauer Schools Reporter on Benefits of NatGas

NFG’s new CEO David Bauer

Last week National Fuel Gas Company’s new CEO David Bauer, who just took the reins of the company from the previous CEO Ronald Tanski in July (see NFG CEO Tanski Retiring in July, Replacement Named), attended a luncheon in Erie, PA. He spoke to a local reporter to answer questions about NFG and the industry at large. Although NFG is a large utility company, it also owns Seneca Resources, a shale driller, and Empire Pipeline. The conversation with the reporter mostly centered on shale questions.
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NFG On Track to Build Northern Access Pipe in NY in 2022/23

National Fuel Gas Company (NFG), the utility and midstream giant based in Buffalo, NY, remains committed to building it’s Northern Access Pipeline project, a $500 million project that includes building 97 miles of new pipeline along a power line corridor from northwestern Pennsylvania up to Erie County, NY. The project also calls for 3 miles of new pipeline further up, in Niagara County, along with a new compressor station in the Town of Pendleton. Although New York State (under the profoundly corrupt Andrew Cuomo) continues to try and block the project, NFG says they will build it–in the 2022-23 time frame.
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NFG Dropping a Rig Amid Low Gas Prices, Focus on Pipes

Last week National Fuel Gas Company (NFG), headquartered in Western New York State (operates drilling subsidiary Seneca Resources and pipeline subsidiary Empire Pipeline), issued its quarterly update. The company says it plans to cut back on its natural gas drilling in central and western Pennsylvania next year from three rigs to two, but will increase investment and work on pipelines.
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LNG Virtual Pipe Co Stabilis Buys/Merges in American Electric

Stabilis Energy, based in Houston, TX, offers a complete range of fully integrated LNG fueling solutions from LNG production to LNG distribution and technical support across North America. Stabilis has just bought out and merged in another company, American Electric Technologies. And believe it or not, there IS a Marcellus/Utica tie-in.
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DEP Permits for NWPA FM100 Pipeline – Marcellus Gas to Transco

In March we told you about National Fuel Gas Company’s (NFG) FM100 Project in northwestern Pennsylvania that will beef up and extend an existing pipeline network to flow an extra 330 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) of Marcellus gas to Williams’ mighty Transco Pipeline (see NFG FM100 Pipe Project in NW PA to Feed Marcellus Gas to Transco). The Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) published notices in last weekend’s PA Bulletin of their intent to issue permits for the project.
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Seneca Resources NatGas Production “Slightly” Disappoints

“In our exploration and production business, even though we achieved our highest ever average daily production rate this past quarter, we were expecting more. It’s a slight disappointment that we modestly lowered the midpoint of our production guidance to the low end of the range that we established last August.” So said National Fuel Gas Company (NFG) CEO Ron Tanski in talking about NFG’s Seneca Resources shale drilling subsidiary on a conference call last Friday.
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Seneca Drilling New Utica Well *on* PA State Land in Elk County

This is a “man bites dog” kind of story. Typically when we read about drilling on Pennsylvania state-owned land, the drilling happens on private land adjacent to the state land with the lateral reaching under state land (leased for that purpose). This time we spotted a story about a new well due to be drilled this year in Elk County, PA that sits directly *on* state land, and will reach under private land!
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