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Rex Energy Ramping Production to Hit Year-End Exit Rate

Operating efficiencies that allowed earlier than expected turn-in-lines during the third quarter helped Rex Energy Corp. beat guidance for the period and have the company on track to meet its year-end exit rate production growth target of 15-20%.

Rex produced 182 MMcfe/d during the third quarter, coming in just above the company’s 171-181 MMcfe/d guidance for the period. Natural gas liquids (NGL) and condensate accounted for 38% of the period’s volumes

Noncore asset sales and midstream constraints in western Pennsylvania cut into the company’s year/year growth, with Rex having reported 197.8 MMcfe/d in 3Q2016. But third quarter production exceeded volumes of 177.1 MMcfe/d in 2Q2017, and the company is guiding for 195-205 MMcfe/d for the fourth quarter.

Rex has worked with a third party reservoir engineering firm this year, conducting a performance analysis of 160 of its wells in Butler County, PA, that has started to yield better results.

“This review included a detailed look at many of the factors we consider critical in formulating a frack design,” CEO Tom Stabley told financial analysts on Wednesday during the company’s third quarter earnings call. “During this review, we identified a number of items that appear to have a consistent and material impact on well performance and worked with our third party engineering group to develop a more optimal frack design.”

Rex has started implementing its findings in both Pennsylvania and Ohio. Stabley said the company is seeing shallower declines and better production rates on longer lateral wells. Two wells that recently came online in the company’s Moraine East area in Butler County that employed the enhanced completions had the highest production rates Rex has achieved on a per lateral foot basis in the field.

Since last year, Rex has sold noncore assets in the Illinois Basin and southeast Ohio to boost liquidity. Stabley said the company has hired SunTrust Robinson Humphrey Inc. to market its remaining noncore assets in Westmoreland, Clearfield and Centre counties, PA, where the company currently produces 8.4 MMcfe/d across 10,200 net acres.

Rex hasn’t released official plans for 2018, but as it ramps production to meet fourth quarter guidance and continues to apply enhanced completions, Stabley said the company would be ready to release more details in the months ahead.

With more exposure to the Gulf Coast, commodity prices for Rex improved during the third quarter. The company reported average realized prices, including hedges, of $2.66/Mcf for natural gas and $23.44/bbl for NGLs. That’s compared to $1.65/Mcf and $18.15/bbl, including hedges, in 3Q2016. Revenue increased to $48 million during the quarter from $34 million in the year-ago period.

Rex reported a net loss of $47.1 million (minus $4.76/share) for the third quarter, compared to net income of $4.8 million (5 cents) in 3Q2016.

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