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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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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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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Marcellus/Utica Stock Prices Soar on News of Oil Price Crash

With yesterday’s historic crash in the price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil comes a big boost in the stock price for a number of Marcellus/Utica drillers. As we’ve outlined multiple times, but will repeat here again, stock traders believe that with the crash in oil prices and U.S. shale oil drillers laying down rigs faster than we can count, the high volume of “associated gas” coming from the oilfields will vastly decrease. That means less supply in the market. With less supply and the same (or increasing) demand comes higher prices for natgas. And higher prices for natgas means more profits and likely more new drilling for Marcellus/Utica drillers. Hence, investors are snapping up stocks for M-U drilling companies.
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Marcellus Companies $tep Up to Help During COVID-19 Crisis

Companies in the Marcellus/Utica shale industry have stepped up and given money, and in some cases retooled manufacturing operations, in order to help communities, first responders and medical professionals respond to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Companies like ExxonMobil, Range Resources, Cabot Oil & Gas, EQT, Alta Resources, Chevron, Greylock Energy, Olympus Energy, Penn E&R, Southwestern Energy and others. We are gratified and proud of the industry where we hang our hat.
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Southwestern’s 2020 Game Plan: Spend Less, Produce More & Hedge

Southwestern Energy issued its 2019 update on Friday, with talk about what’s ahead for 2020. Southwestern is something of a unicorn. They made $891 million in profit for 2019! Even in a low price environment. Well done. Like every other Marcellus/Utica driller, Southwestern plans to spend less on drilling in 2020, yet they also say they will produce more gas, and sell it at favorable prices. What’s Southwestern’s magic?
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Marcellus/Utica Drillers’ Stock Prices Near/At Historic Lows

The value of a company’s stock price is important, for a variety of reasons. The stock price reflects investor confidence in whether the company can earn its keep and grow profits in the future. A higher stock price wards off takeovers. Upper management gets a raise. And the company can borrow money when it needs to at reasonable interest rates. All sorts of reasons why the stock price is important. Unfortunately for top drillers in the Marcellus/Utica, their stock prices have tanked. As a group, and individually, the stock price is either near or even at the lowest it’s *ever been.* Let that sink in.
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HUGE NEWS: PA Supreme Court Keeps ‘Rule of Capture’ for Fracking

There is one court case in Pennsylvania that we’ve been concerned about since April 2018. The Briggs v Southwestern Energy case had the power to block most new Marcellus Shale drilling in the state. The case, revolving around the oil and gas “rule of capture” principle, was appealed by Southwestern all the way to the PA Supreme Court. We are elated to report that yesterday the Supremes ruled supreme and found in favor of Southwestern–retaining the rule of capture in the Keystone State. This is seriously good news for both drillers and leased landowners. Below we explain what the rule of capture is, the background of the case, and what the Supremes said in yesterday’s important ruling.
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Southwestern CEO Says Company Slowing M-U Production in 2020

slow warning sign isolated

Bill Way, CEO of Southwestern Energy, said in an interview that his company will grow production next year, but not by much. Southwestern’s 2020 growth will be “in the single digits” versus higher growth this year. Which shouldn’t surprise anyone. Reviewing Southwestern’s 3Q19 numbers we find the company’s Marcellus/Utica production from January to September 2019 was 11% higher than the same time frame from last year. Southwestern’s 3Q19 (July to September) production was 8% higher than the previous year’s 3Q. So the signs were already there to see–if you were looking.
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IEEFA Report Says Marcellus/Utica Drillers in Financial Trouble

Masquerading as a nonpartisan, independent nonprofit, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) reportedly “conducts research and analyses on financial and economic issues related to energy and the environment.” The Institute’s stated mission is “to accelerate the transition to a diverse, sustainable and profitable energy economy.” In other words, they’re anti-fossil fuels. We spotted an article appearing on OilPrice.com that quotes a new “study” issued by IEEFA. The article opens by saying, “drillers in Appalachia are in particularly bad shape.” Is it true? Is the end near? Is it a shalepocalypse?
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Natural Gas Supply Association Goes Nuts, Supports Carbon Tax

What’s the clinical term for a person who intentionally wants to harm him or herself? Self harm? Self injury? Self flagellation? That’s what we call the situation at the NGSA (Natural Gas Supply Association) which yesterday said it supports an economy and shale-killing carbon tax “as a critical pathway to aggressively reducing carbon emissions.” Are they nuts? Have they lost their collective minds?!
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Southwestern Returns as Much Freshwater to Environment as Used

Southwestern Energy continues to be a trailblazer among Marcellus/Utica shale drillers. The company voluntarily participates in several environmental programs aimed at lowering methane emissions, including the TrustWell™ Responsible Gas Program and the ONE Future organization (see Southwestern Energy Lands Another “Responsible Gas” Customer). Air quality is not the only environmental issue important to Southwestern. Water is too.
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Southwestern Energy 3Q – Production Up, Spending Down a Lot

Southwestern Energy, now a pure play driller focused on the Marcellus/Utica since selling off their Fayetteville Shale assets in Sept. 2018, produced 2.2 billion cubic feet equivalent per day (Bcfe/d) of natural gas in 3Q19, up from 2.0 Bcfe/d in 3Q18. (Those numbers remove the Fayetteville to compare apples to apples.) Southwestern drilled 24 new Marcellus and/or Utica wells and completed 30 wells in 3Q, which means, like other drillers, they continue to draw down their DUC (drilled but uncompleted) well inventory. Unlike Cabot which produces 100% dry gas, some 22% of Southwestern’s production was natural gas liquids.
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Southwestern Energy Lands Another “Responsible Gas” Customer

In September 2018 MDN brought you the news that Southwestern Energy had, for the first time anywhere, sold natural gas to a customer (utility company New Jersey Resources) that has been certified as “responsible gas.” The certification comes from Independent Energy Standards Corporation (IES) and they call it their TrustWell™ Responsible Gas Program certification (see Southwestern Sells 1st Certified “Responsible Gas” to NJ Resources). It looks like they’ve landed another customer for their “responsible” gas: Virginia Natural Gas.
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New Trading Platform for “Responsibly Produced NatGas” Launching

Last September MDN reported that Southwestern Energy was the very first driller to earn the label of producing “responsible gas” from the Independent Energy Standards Corporation (IES)–what they call their TrustWell™ Responsible Gas Program certification (see Southwestern Sells 1st Certified “Responsible Gas” to NJ Resources). In April, a driller in the Rockies became the second company to earn the designation (see “Responsible Gas” Certification Expands, Gains Another Driller). Now there’s a way for those who buy and sell natural gas to tell if the gas they’re buying and selling is “responsibly produced.”
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Which Way will PA Supreme Court Rule on ‘Rule of Capture’ Case?

Last week MDN told you that oral arguments would be heard on Thursday at the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in what we believe is one of (perhaps THE) most important shale cases ever in the Keystone State (see Most Important Court Case in PA Shale History Heads to Supremes). The case deals with whether or not the age-old oil and gas principle called “the rule of capture” applies in PA shale drilling.
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