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Range Resources Corp.’s multi-billion dollar bet on North Louisiana’s Cotton Valley Sands Terryville Complex is for now a losing one, with management this week again acknowledging poor results and highlighting plans to scale back operations to learn more about the play and salvage the program.
“I’d like to acknowledge that our performance in 2017 was not up to Range’s standards,” CEO Jeff Ventura told analysts during a year-end earnings call on Wednesday. “While we have outstanding results in the Marcellus, we did not hit our targets in North Louisiana and we all agree yearly results have been disappointing.”
Range struggled with poor results in the Terryville last year. Despite improvements in the second half of the year, Ventura conceded that the productivity of the wells is below expectations. “Put simply, the asset has been more geologically complex than anticipated, and portions of the core area have been less productive than expected,” he said.
The company plans to continue leaning on the Marcellus Shale assets in 2018. The Northeast also factors heavily into the five-year plan. Only one rig is planned this year in North Louisiana, compared to a high point of seven rigs over the last year or so. The Appalachian division is to see 85% of this year’s $941 million capital budget, with plans to bring online 100 wells, compared to 11 in North Louisiana.
“By slowing down in North Louisiana, it will allow the team additional time to incorporate our latest technical and production data,” Ventura said. “By allowing more time running just one rig for the remainder of 2018, we expect the team, under new leadership, will make improvements.”
John Applegath, who was leading the North Louisiana division, has retired, and Scott Chesebro, who formerly worked in the region for Anadarko Petroleum Corp., is taking over. Dennis Degner has also been promoted to senior vice president of operations to oversee both the Appalachian and North Louisiana divisions.
Range acquired the Terryville assets in a $4.4 billion deal in 2016 when it took over Memorial Resource Development Corp. (MRD). The move was aimed at giving the company more optionality and a footprint on the Gulf Coast.
Driven by its Appalachian assets, primarily the Marcellus in southwest Pennsylvania, Range produced 2 Bcfe/d last year, compared with 1.5 Bcfe/d in 2016. The company also reported higher production in the fourth quarter of 2.17 Bcfe/d from 1.85 Bcfe/d in the year-ago period and 1.99 Bcfe/d in 3Q2017. Appalachia accounted for about 1.8 Bcfe/d of fourth quarter production, including more than 100,000 b/d of natural gas liquids (NGL), making Range one of the nation's largest NGL producers, according to its tally.
In North Louisiana, however, production has continued to fall since 4Q2016, which was the first full quarter producing since the MRD acquisition. In 4Q2016 Range reported 399 MMcfe/d from the division, which fell to 348 MMcfe/d in 4Q2017 and from 360 MMcfe/d in 3Q2017.
While Range is guiding for a 13% compound annual growth rate over the next five years, it said in January North Louisiana production would be held flat to 2018 volumes over the period.
The company’s marketing strategy, which has been years in the making, is expected to be fully implemented this year. About 900 MMcf/d is scheduled to come online, exposing Range to more demand and better pricing, with the last volumes due to enter service during the second quarter with Energy Transfer Partners LP’s Rover Phase 2.
For the fourth quarter, the company reported net income of $221.2 million (89 cents/share), compared with a net loss of $160.7 million (minus 66 cents) in the year-ago period. Range reported 2017 net income of $333 million ($1.34/share), compared with a net loss of $521 million (minus $2.75) in 2016.
For the full-year, Range realized an all-in price, including hedges, of $2.99/Mcfe, up 9% from 2016. Revenue for 2017 was $2.6 billion, compared to $1.1 billion in 2016.