Antero to spend $1.65B on shales

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – A Denver based company plans to spend $1.65 billion this year drilling the Utica Shale in Ohio and the Marcellus Shale in West Virginia.

A year after Antero Resources paid $5,900 per acre with 21 percent royalties for mineral rights in Monroe County, its Rubel well in Monroe County has reached 8,132 feet in depth, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. In Belmont County, Antero has about 800 separate lease agreements in Belmont County.

In West Virginia, the Department of Environmental Protection has approved 15 well permits for Antero since Monday. The department also received several additional drilling applications for Antero in Tyler, Doddridge and Ritchie counties.

“We are here to stay,” said Alvyn Schopp, vice president of administration and accounting for Antero. “This is the largest budget we have ever had for that part of the country, and we intend to keep moving forward.”

In 2013, Antero plans to operate an average of 12 drilling rigs in the Marcellus and two rigs in the Utica. The 14 rigs will be supplemented by four shallow rigs that will drill the vertical section of horizontal wells down to the point where the wells will turn horizontally, about 6,000 feet under the ground.

Of the $1.65 billion projected budget, Antero plans to use $1.15 billion for drilling and fracking, $350 million for building gathering pipelines and $150 million to acquire new leases. Antero’s net production in West Virginia and Ohio is expected to increase up to 138 percent in 2013.

Antero also is looking to reduce truck traffic on narrow, rural roads by building an 80-mile water pipeline to service the company’s fracking sites across northern West Virginia. The company estimates this process will actually save it roughly $600,000 per well, a considerable discount on wells estimated to cost around $7 million each to drill and frack.

“It will basically run across Doddridge, Harrison and Ritchie counties. It will connect our water impoundments and pools to carry water to our sites,” Schopp said of the pipeline. “These are fresh water pipes only, so no one needs to worry about one of them rupturing and releasing flowback water.”

Flowback water results when drillers finish with a frack job, which requires as much as 6 million gallons of water. Since some of this water flows back up through the well when fracking is finished, drillers need to take this briny substance to injection wells.

“One of the major complaints everyone in this industry gets deals with truck traffic. This system should help us significantly reduce our impact there,” Schopp said.