Antero, Gulfport plan major drilling investments

WHEELING – Antero Resources plans to spend about $2.6 billion for drilling, fracking and pipelining this year.

The investment reflects nearly a $1 billion increase from the Denver-based company’s $1.65 billion budget in 2013.

Antero, which paid $5.97 million to lease acreage from the village of Barnesville, Ohio, and about $400,000 for acreage owned by the Barnesville Exempted Village School District, also signed many individual village property owners to drilling deals in 2013.

In western Monroe County, Ohio, the company drilled a well last summer that Tim Carr, Marshall Miller professor of energy at West Virginia University, estimated could be yielding as much as $300,000 worth of revenue a day.

Antero also maintains drilling operations in Tyler, Doddridge and Ritchie counties. On the corporate level, Antero became a publicly traded company in October by offering of 35,725,000 shares of common stock at $44 per share.

“Since our (initial public offering) in October 2013, we have continued to set the stage for our high growth business model by committing to additional firm transportation and processing, hedging prices on additional natural gas volumes and expanding our liquids-rich acreage position in the Marcellus and Utica shales,” said Paul M. Rady, Antero chairman and CEO.

While Antero focuses in Ohio and West Virginia, Oklahoma City-based Gulfport Energy continues making progress in the Buckeye State. The company produced an average daily output of 11,283 barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2013, up from 7,029 barrels per day in 2012.

Oil equivalent is an industry term used to describe the amount of energy equal to that in a barrel of oil, even though the actual substance may not be chemically considered to be oil.

Many eastern Ohio residents who originally signed leases with Wishgard LLC or Tri-Star Energy have seen those contracts turned over to Gulfport, while Gulfport has also signed many county landowners to their own leases. The company recently signed the village of Bellaire, village of Shadyside and Shadyside Local School District to drilling deals.

During 2014, Gulfport plans to use as much as $634 million to drill as many as 95 new Utica Shale wells.

This year’s $2.6 billion spending program includes using $1.8 billion for drilling and fracking; $600 million for pipelining and processing; and $200 million to acquire new leases. The pipelining and processing portion also includes spending $200 million for fresh water distribution.

Antero is operating 15 drilling rigs across the Marcellus region, along with six fracking crews working in West Virginia. The company has 65 Marcellus wells either in the process of drilling, fracking or awaiting pipeline connection.

In southeastern Ohio, Antero is running five rigs and has two frack crews on the job. There are 18 wells producing, while 20 others are in some stage of being finished.

Gulfport has about 165,000 acres under lease in Ohio’s Utica Shale, while it has the second-largest number of drilling permits, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. With 32.35 million barrels of oil equivalent in proven Utica reserves, the region represents 84 percent of Gulfport’s total portfolio.

Gulfport has several productive wells in Belmont County, including the Irons 1-4 H well along Ohio 148 near Armstrong Mills, which is yielding about 30 million cubic feet of dry methane natural gas daily. Company officials said they drilled the Irons well to a true vertical depth of 9,770 feet.

The company then drilled a 6,629-foot horizontal lateral to the well from that depth.

The company also recently reached an agreement with Rhino Resources to pay $185 million for about 8,200 additional eastern Ohio acres.

“This transaction is extremely significant for Rhino. This allows us to eliminate the company’s debt and will give us tremendous financial flexibility,” said Dave Zatezalo, chairman of the Rhino board of directors.