Wheeling Park HS Signs Lease with Southwestern for $3500/Acre

It’s not often these days we come across a story that mentions a new lease signed, and the amount of money paid as a signing bonus. Such is the case in Ohio County, WV. The Wheeling Park High School has just signed a lease with Southwestern Energy for $3,500 per acre for 66 acres–giving the school district $231,000 of newly found revenue, thanks to the Marcellus/Utica industry. No drilling equipment will be placed on or near school property. When the drilling eventually happens UNDER the school, and the wells begin to flow, Wheeling Park High School will then get more revenue–18% royalties on all gas produced…
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Southwestern Energy 2Q17: Marcellus Prod. Up, Drilled 36 Wells

Last week one of the Marcellus Shale’s largest drillers, Southwestern Energy, issued its second quarter 2017 update. While production fell slightly from 2Q16 to 2Q17, the fall was due to Southwestern’s Fayetteville Shale production. In both the northeast and southwest Marcellus, Southwestern’s production went up year over year by 12 billion cubic feet equivalent (Bcfe). Southwestern continues to drill and concentrate solely on Marcellus wells–at least in 2Q17. In northeast Marcellus, Southwestern drilled and brought 21 wells online with an average lateral length of 5,530 feet and an average cost of $5.1 million per well. Perhaps we’d characterize them as “short but cheap” wells. Southwestern also drilled an experimental Marcellus well in Bradford County with a lateral of 12,000 feet. That well, the Seymour 1H, is among the top 10% of Southwestern’s wells, with an initial production rate of 37.7 million cubic feet feet (MMcf) per day. Also of note in the northeast–Southwestern added an additional 140 MMcf/d of pipeline capacity, to get their gas to better-paying markets. In southwest Marcellus Southwestern drilled and brought online 15 new wells, with an average lateral length of 7,627 feet and an average cost of $7.1 million per well. The company reported drilling one Utica well in 2Q17–in Washington County, PA. That well will not be completed and online until later this year. The company’s first Utica well, the O.E. Burge 501H in Marshall County, WV, “continues to exhibit strong productivity, with cumulative production of over 2 Bcf in its first six flowing months.” Here’s the lowdown on Southwestern Energy for 2Q17…
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WV Shale Well Initial Production Rates Jump 20% in One Year

Of the three Marcellus/Utica producing states–Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia–only WV reports well production on an annual basis. Not frequent enough! In July WV published production numbers for 2016. The exciting news is that on average, initial production (IP) of Marcellus/Utica shale wells surged 20% over 2015. IP is the amount of gas (or oil or NGLs) flowing from a well. However, when you dig into the numbers, you learn that IP rates did not go up universally across the state. Some counties had big increases, other counties went the other way. The same with drillers. Some drillers (like Antero) saw a big bump up in average IP rates. Other’s (like Southwestern Energy) saw a dip in IP rates from 2015 to 2016…
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Top 10 Natural Gas Producers in the U.S., Post-EQT/Rice Merger

As we were reading about yesterday’s big news of EQT buying Rice Energy, we came across a couple of lists (same list, different sources) listing the top 10 natural gas-producing companies in the United States. The list was reworked to show that the combination of EQT and Rice will create the #1 largest natural gas-producing company in the country. An astonishing feat. But what caught our eye in looking over the “top 10” list was just how many of the companies in that list have operations in the Marcellus/Utica. At one time or another, all 10 of the top 10 owned leases and/or drilled in the Marcellus/Utica. By our count, 8 of the top 10 still do. You already know that EQT/Rice will become the #1 producer. But who is #2, and #3? And what about the rest of the list? We have it for you below…
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Southwestern Energy CFO Craig Owen Leaving for Rosehill Resources

Southwestern Energy, a huge driller which operates mainly in the Marcellus/Utica region, is losing its chief financial officer, Craig Owen, to a “non-competing” driller, Rosehill Resources. Rosehill drills in Texas and New Mexico, focusing on the giant Permian Basin oil play. Apparently Rosehill made Owen an offer he couldn’t refuse. We certainly don’t take this as bad news for Southwestern–other than losing a talented bean counter. It’s not an indication of problems at Southwestern–just somebody furthering his career. You can’t fault Owen for that. Meanwhile, Southwestern has hung out the “help wanted” sign for a new CFO, in case you know of someone…
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Southwestern Energy – Pedal to the Metal in the Marcellus/Utica

Earlier this week MDN brought you the latest quarterly update from Southwestern Energy (see Southwestern Energy 1Q17: Production Falls 14%, Profits Soar). As we noted, production was down, but profits up. Southwestern is investing 85% of their budget in the Marcellus/Utica this year. In covering the Southwestern story, we neglected to bring you a portion of the earnings call where Jack Bergeron talks. Bergeron is Southwestern Senior Vice President for E&P Operations. He had some things to say about the company’s Marcellus/Utica drilling program that we think you’ll find interesting. What kinds of things? Like details about the company’s move from using 3,500 pounds of sand per foot to 5,000 lbs/ft. And details about the increase in Estimated Ultimate Recovery (EUR) the company is seeing–from 11 billion cubic feet per well to 15 Bcf/well–from using a new completion method. We also have more comments by Southwestern CEO Bill Way, about the number of wells the company plans to drill in Susquehanna County, PA…
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Southwestern Energy 1Q17: Production Falls 14%, Profits Soar

Southwestern Energy turned in its first quarter 2017 update last week. Not widely reported is that production for the company slipped by 14% during 1Q17 over 1Q16. Why? The company shut down new drilling for a good part of last year, when prices were low. However, the company got a lot healthier last year, financially. After losing $1.1 billion in 1Q16, Southwestern made $351 million in profit in 1Q17–almost a $1.5 billion swing from red to black. Southwestern also reported a new high for their proved reserves–now over 10 trillion cubic feet. CEO Bill Way said on an earnings call that Southwestern is investing 85% of their budget in the Marcellus/Utica this year. They are, without a doubt, one of the largest (if not THE largest) active driller in the Marcellus/Utica today. Here’s more about Southwestern’s 1Q17 performance…
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Southwestern Energy Fighting Ohio County, WV Fire Dept. Fee

Location of Ohio County, WV

Ohio County, WV, like many rural counties, has a string of volunteer fire departments that respond to calls in their respective localities. When an industrial activity like shale drilling shows up, local volunteers need special (ongoing) training to address the unique circumstances involved with a well pad fire. There’s also all of the extra calls local fire departments get from the sheer volume of vehicle traffic related to workers coming and going, and trucks hauling all manner of materials–from pipes to equipment to water. Those vehicles sometimes get into accidents, requiring a fire truck to respond. So Ohio County passed a $5,000 per well pad fee, per year, to help defray those costs. Southwestern Energy is the only driller active in the county, currently, with some 29 well pads. For Southwestern, the fee equals $145,000 per year, year after year, going to the local fire department effort. When Ohio County sent Southwestern the bill, Southwestern didn’t pay it. Instead, they filed a lawsuit claiming the fee is “arbitrary and excessive”…
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Southwestern Energy Refocuses from Fayetteville to Marcellus/Utica

Did you know that the second largest U.S. natural gas exploration and production (E&P) company as measured by how much natural gas it produces is Southwestern Energy? Chesapeake Energy is #1, and Southwestern is #2. Who woulda thunk? And did you know that just five years ago Southwestern’s name was synonymous not with the Marcellus/Utica where they operate today, but with the Fayetteville Shale play in Arkansas? Over the past five years Southwestern has refocused its drilling efforts here in the Marcellus/Utica. Like most drillers across the country, 2016 was a rocky year for Southwestern. They idled their rigs during the first part of the year and ended up losing money (see Southwestern Loses $2.8B in 2016, Ramps Up Utica Drilling “Early”). However, the company is jazzed about 2017 and beyond. We spotted an extensive article on the Seeking Alpha investor website that takes a close look at Southwestern’s history, their refocus on the Marcellus/Utica, and look at what’s ahead for this drilling giant. We found it interesting and think you will too…
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Southwestern Loses $2.8B in 2016, Ramps Up Utica Drilling “Early”

After idling most of its rigs in the Marcellus/Utica during 2016, Southwestern Energy, one of our regions biggest drillers, is restarting rigs and drilling new wells in 2017–according to announcements made by the company over the past several days. Southwestern issued its 2016 update, and 2017 guidance, late last week. Some of the most exciting news to come from Southwestern came on the earnings call last Friday. Southwestern CEO Bill Way said this: “We are very encouraged by the early results of our first Utica well [in Marshall County, WV] and as a result have accelerated the timing for our second test well located in Washington County, Pennsylvania, which was spud earlier this month. And you will recall that we had originally planned to begin our Utica testing in 2018, but results from wells and circling our position and our first well, provided us with the confidence to accelerate this activity.” Although rigs got idled in 2016, it doesn’t mean there was no drilling. Last year Southwestern invested a total of $623 million in drilling, and drilled 62 wells, completed 86 wells, placed 85 wells to sales and had 135 wells in progress. Of the 135 wells in progress at year-end, 73 were located in Northeast Appalachia, 42 in Southwest Appalachia and 20 in the Fayetteville Shale. On the down side, the company reports losing $2.8 billion (mostly a paper loss for “impairments”–write-downs of asset value). But that’s a vast improvement over losing $4.7 billion in 2015…
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Top 20 Marcellus Drillers in Southwest Pennsylvania

The sharp folks over at the Pittsburgh Business Times have been looking through data from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and have compiled a list of 20 drillers who have at least a dozen shale wells in the southwest PA region. And they ranked them from lowest to highest. We’ve grabbed the list below. The interesting thing for MDN is that there is one name in the list not familiar to us, and we’ve been watching this space since 2009. Always fun to learn something new. Here’s the list of southwest PA’s “Top 20” Marcellus drillers…
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Marcellus Biggest Drillers Lock in 2017 Gas Prices at $3+ per Mcf

In September, MDN brought you research on 10 of the largest Marcellus/Utica drillers that have “hedged” their 2017 production (see Hedging Gas Prices in Marcellus/Utica – Who Hedges & How Much?). Hedging is a concept of pre-selling the gas you produce at a price you agree to now, in advance. Although that may sound risky, it’s actually an exercise in risk avoidance. It’s less risky to lock in favorable prices now rather than wait and potentially get far less. How do drillers know what the price of gas will be six months or a year from now? They don’t know, for sure, but there is something called the forward market, that predicts what prices will be at future dates. In fact, traders create contracts now based on prices in the future, and those contracts are reported by various news and data services, like NGI’s Forward Look publication. The company that provided the research back in September, S&P, is back with an update. The latest research shows that all of the top 10 drillers have hedged at least some of their production–and some of them have hedged most or even all of their production. What prices have each of these 10 drillers locked in and for how much production?…
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NEPA Landowner Signed with Southwestern Sues – Drilling Too Loud

lawsuitA landowner in northeastern Pennsylvania signed a lease with Southwestern Energy, leasing her property for shale gas drilling. Southwestern eventually showed up and drilled a well on her property. But the landowner then said the drilling was too loud, and lights at night too bright, and it disturbed her “peace of mind”–so she sued Southwestern for eight weeks of “peace of mind” disruption and a prescription for Xanax. Fantastically, a judge is letting the lawsuit proceed. Earth to landowners: When drillers show up, it’s an INDUSTRIAL activity. It’s loud. There’s lots of trucks. There’s lights at night. And in a month or two, it all goes away. And when the royalty checks arrive in the mail, you’ll forget all about the inconveniences. So what’s really going on in this case?…
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Southwestern Energy 3Q16: Still in Red, but Trims Loss by Half

southwestern energySouthwestern Energy issued its third quarter 2016 update yesterday. The good news is that the company continued to drill in 3Q16 in the Marcellus, and was able to lower their losses. Southwestern is still in the red, losing $735 million in 3Q16. But that’s down from losing $1.8 billion in 3Q15–so they cut their losses by more than half. Still, you can’t be in the red forever. The average price Southwestern received for natural gas in 3Q16 was $1.73 per thousand cubic feet (Mcf), down from the $2.21/Mcf they averaged in 3Q15. In northeast PA Southwestern drilled 18 new wells in 3Q16, completing 9 of them. However, production in NEPA was down, from 93 billion cubic feet (Bcf) in 3Q15 to 84 Bcf in 3Q16. In Southwestern’s southwest PA/WV area they drilled 4 new wells and completed 8 wells. Production in that region stayed even at 37 Bcf/d. The company said they expect to exit 2016 with 85 drilled but uncompleted wells (DUCs). Here’s the update issued yesterday…
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4 Marcellus Drillers Ramp Up Production in 2016

step-on-the-gasWe can’t say enough good things about Rusty Braziel and RBN Energy. Rusty was the co-founder of Bentek Energy, sold a few years ago to Platts. Rusty is the consummate industry professional who has forgotten more about the oil and gas industry than most of us will ever know. He recently wrote and published The Domino Effect: How the Shale Revolution is Transforming Energy Markets, Industries and Economies (buy it on Amazon). Rusty has collected a group of very smart industry analysts who write about the oil and gas industry. One of those analysts is Nick Cacchione, who wrote a post on the RBN Energy website yesterday about the top 10 gas-focused drillers in the country. It’s no coincidence that all of them have operations in the Marcellus/Utica, and most of them are totally focused on the northeast. We found it to be an enlightening and helpful article. One of the main points is how four of the top 10, while reducing their spending, have significantly increased their production numbers for 2016. Here’s a deep dive into the top 10 according to RBN, featuring the four who are “stepping on the gas”…
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Investor Buys/Sells Stock in 4 Marcellus/Utica Drillers, Doubles $

double moneyThere’s certainly more than one way to make money on fracking in the Marcellus/Utica. Billionaire hedge fund manager David Tepper (Appaloosa Management) has found such a way. Tepper knows a good company, or four, when he sees them. In the fourth quarter of 2015, when Marcellus/Utica company stocks were at one of their lowest points, Tepper loaded up, buying stock in four leading northeast drillers. Half a year later he turned around and sold that stock, for a 100%+ return on his investment. He doubled his money. Smart man. Which drillers’ stocks did Tepper buy and then sell?…
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