EQT Begins Process of Separating Midstream…into New Company?

Yesterday EQT released details about their plans for 2018 (see our lead story today, EQT Drills Longest Marcellus Well Ever, Reveals 2018 Plans). Plenty of news sources covered that news. However, EQT Midstream, the pipeline subsidiary of EQT, also released an announcement, which received almost no media coverage. And yet there is, for us, some big news in the EQT Midstream announcement. As you know by now, EQT recently bought and merged in Rice Energy, creating the largest onshore natural gas producing company in the United States (see EQT Buys Rice Energy in $8.2B Deal, Becomes #1 Gas Producer in US). EQT bought not only Rice the driller, but Rice the midstream company too. EQT has it’s own EQT Midstream subsidiary. And yet, EQT (the driller) still owns a number of midstream/pipeline assets, on paper, separate from EQT Midstream. Same with Rice Energy–they had Rice Midstream Partners as a subsidiary. It’s all kind of a mish mash–with pipeline assets spread around four (or more) different entities on paper. Yesterday’s announcement by EQT Midstream said (a) the EQT parent company is considering “dropping down” (shifting ownership on paper) for all remaining midstream assets to EQT Midstream, and (b) EQT is also considering combining EQT Midstream and Rice Midstream Partners into one single entity–one division for all midstream assets. Which certainly makes sense. Why not tidy up the operations and get everything under one umbrella? Except we think there may be another reason for combining all of the midstream assets into one, neat, lovable bundle: spinning off the midstream division into its own standalone company, completely separate from the EQT parent…
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Rice Midstream Investors Hope Deal with EQT Doesn’t Happen

When EQT and Rice Energy announced a deal in June for EQT to buyout and merge in Rice to create the largest natgas-producing company in the U.S., it seemed like a match made in heaven (see EQT Buys Rice Energy in $8.2B Deal, Becomes #1 Gas Producer in US). However, not everyone is in favor of the merger, including a corporate raider who know owns nearly 6% of EQT’s stock (see Proxy Fight: Jana Partners, Atlas Tries to Stop EQT/Rice Deal). You can add another group–from the “inside”–that doesn’t want to see the merger happen either: investors in Rice Midstream. Rice Midstream is an MLP, or master limited partnership, a different structure from the usual stockholding corporation. In an MLP, investors hold “units” instead of shares, and those units are tax-advantaged. The bottom line is that Rice Midstream investors are, according to a Bloomberg Businessweek article, concerned that they will get the short end of the stick in a post-merger EQT world. Already the value of their units has fallen 20% since the announcement of the merger. It wouldn’t hurt Rice Midstream investors’ feelings at all if Jana (evil corporate raider) prevents the merger from happening. For Rice Midstream investors, the enemy of my enemy is my friend…
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Rice Midstream Floats Another Public Offering – Feed the Beast!

Feed the BeastOn Tuesday Rice Midstream, the pipeline subsidiary of Rice Energy (operating in the Marcellus/Utica region) announced they will offer new “units” (think shares of stock) in the company. Rice said they will float an initial 8 million units, with an option of selling an additional 1.2 million units. The company hopes to get $18.50 per unit, meaning they are looking to raise $148 – $170 million by selling off more of the company. Rice first spun the midstream division into its own company (on paper) in December 2014. They got $16.50 per unit at the time, a total of $441.6 million (see Rice Midstream IPO Falls Short of Goal by Approx. $134M). Since that time Rice has continued to sell off pieces of ownership in the midstream division. Last December Rice received a $500 million investment in the midstream company in return for an ownership stake from an unnamed investor (see Rice Energy Sells Part Ownership in Rice Midstream for $500M). In February, Rice sold an 8.5% stake in the midstream company to EIG for $375 million (see Rice Sells 8.5% Ownership of Rice Midstream to EIG for $375M). And now they’re looking for another $150 million or so. Are you getting the idea (like us) that Rice Midstream has some pretty big plans ahead? Plans that require a LOT of money…
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Rice Energy 1Q16: Prod. Up 53%; Drilled 19 New Wells; Lost $21M

Rice EnergyRice Energy, one of the newest and brightest drillers in the Marcellus/Utica, released their first quarter 2016 update yesterday. The company reports production averaged 675 million cubic feet equivalent per day (Mmcfe/d) during 1Q16, a 53% increase over 1Q15 (and up 8% from 4Q15). On the financial side the company lost $21 million during 1Q16, versus making $152,000 in 1Q15. Pretty mild compared to most. During 1Q16 Rice drilled 11 new Marcellus wells and 8 new Utica wells. Good to see someone is still drilling! Here’s the update, along with a great PowerPoint slide deck…
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Rice Sells 8.5% Ownership of Rice Midstream to EIG for $375M

Rice Energy has sold an 8.5% ownership stake in Rice Midstream to EIG Global Energy Partners for $375 million. Rice plans to use the money to help fund its 2016 pipeline expansion program in the Marcellus/Utica. EIG is also on the hook for another $125 million investment in the next 18 months if Rice chooses to exercise it. Here’s the details for how Rice Midstream is dealing with the downturn in the market…
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Rice Energy Sells Part Ownership in Rice Midstream for $500M

Rice Energy announced yesterday they’ve pocketed a cool $500 million from an unnamed energy investment company in return for an ownership stake in their subsidiary Rice Midstream. Rice Energy (the mother ship) will use $375 million of that new cash to pay off debts, and the other $125 million will get used for drilling new Marcellus and Utica Shale wells…
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Competitors Rice Energy & Gulfport Form $640M Utica Midstream JV

joint ventureYesterday Rice Energy announced that the company’s subsidiary, Rice Midstream, has signed a joint venture agreement with competitor Gulfport Energy to develop a pipeline gathering and water delivery system for Gulfport’s Utica Shale drilling program in Ohio’s eastern Belmont County and Monroe County. Rice will be 75% owner and in charge of the jv. Rice and Gulfport plan to invest a combined $640 million into the jv over the next six years. Construction begins immediately and the first gas (and water) will begin to flow through the new system by middle of next year. Here’s the details…
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Rice Energy 2Q15: Another PA Utica Monster Well on the Way?!

Rice Energy, a relatively young but rapidly growing and important driller in both the Marcellus and Utica Shale plays, turned in their second quarter 2015 update yesterday. Like virtually every other North American driller the bad news is Rice experienced a net loss after expenses of $63.5 million in 2Q15 vs. a net loss of $7.9 million in 2Q14. But there was plenty of good news in the Rice update. For one thing, 2Q15 production was up an amazing 120% over 2Q14–to an average 529 million cubic feet equivalent per day (MMcfe/d). For another thing, Rice turned in to sales 11 operated Ohio Utica and 14 operated Pennsylvania Marcellus wells–the most active quarter in the company’s young history. Perhaps most exciting of all, Rice reports they have drilled their first Pennsylvania Utica well in Greene County and will hook that well up to sales sometime in the next month or two. Greene County is the location for the current ruling champ of Utica wells, drilled by EQT (see EQT’s 1st Utica Well Shatters Record – 72.9 MMcf/d IP Rate!). Will this Rice well beat it? Come close? We’re on pins and needles waiting to see!…

UPDATE: Rice Energy said on their earnings call yesterday that although they will hook up their new Greene County, PA Utica well to production in 3Q15, they will not run an initial production (IP) test on the well. Why? “Recently reported IP tests in close proximity to our position have proven our geologic model’s expectation that this area is highly prospective for Utica development. From other data we’ve gathered during the drilling and completion of this well, we would fully expect similar IP results, but our main focus is determining long-term production potential.” Bummer!
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Rice Energy Doubles Production 1Q15; Utica Flows; Ekes Out a Profit

Rice Energy, a driller focused on the Marcellus and Utica Shale region, released their first quarter 2015 update yesterday. Counter to most others, Rice was actually able to eke out a gain of $152,000 for 1Q15 (most others, in fact we think all others, experienced a loss in 1Q15). Of course that’s down radically from 1Q14 when the company made $129.5 million! But still, they ended up on the positive side of the balance sheet. The big news was that Rice more than doubled their production in 1Q15 from a year ago–to an average 440 million cubic feet equivalent per day (Mmcfe/d). Unlike last year, this year 15% of Rice’s production came from the Utica Shale (last year it was 0%). Rice’s midstream division continues to experience strong growth as well–by volumes shipped and by revenue. Below we have Rice’s update yesterday, links to several stories analyzing Rice’s results, and a copy of the newest PowerPoint slide deck, used by Rice management on their earnings call with analysts…
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Rice Energy Turns Profitable in 2014; Strong 2015 in View

Rice Energy, a “pure play” energy company focused on drilling in the Utica and Marcellus, issued their full year and fourth quarter 2014 update yesterday. Wow, what an update! Rice had a big year in 2014. The parent company, focused on drilling, went public. They also launched an IPO for their midstream (pipelines) subsidiary. Compared to 2013 which saw a loss on the books, 2014 reversed it. In 2014, Rice’s profit was $218.5 million (out of $390.9 million). That’s an increase over a 2013 loss of $35.8 million (out of $88.7 million in revenue). In 2014, Rice produced 97.7 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of natural gas, up from 23 Bcf in 2013. Aside from the company growing and hitting its stride, what was different about 2014? Last year Rice concentrated on the Utica Shale…
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Rice Midstream Building New “Zeus” Pipeline in Belmont/Monroe OH

ZeusMDN picked up on a bit of news we had not previously heard about. Rice Midstream, the newly formed subsidiary of Rice Energy launched in December (see Rice Midstream IPO Falls Short of Goal by Approx. $134M), is busy at work. They are building eight miles of 30-inch pipeline through portions of Belmont and Monroe counties (in Ohio) as part of their “Zeus” project. This is the first time we’d heard of Zeus (the pipeline). The project will last four months and employ 350 temporary union workers–welders and construction workers…
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