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Antero Plans to Expand in Marcellus; Production Up in 1Q2012

With net production up more than 83% from the prior-year quarter, Antero Resources said Monday that it plans to expand its operations in the Marcellus Shale but will hold the line in the Piceance Basin and the Woodford and Fayetteville shales.

In its report on 1Q2012 results, the Denver-based company said net production averaged 317 MMcfe/d. Antero said current net production is 365 MMcfe/d, which includes 338 MMcf/d of natural gas and 4,400 b/d of natural gas liquids (NGLs) and oil. The company said it completed 32 gross (28 net) operated wells during the quarter, and it currently has 29 gross (28 net) wells in various stages of drilling or completion.

Antero said the seven rigs it is currently operating in the Marcellus Shale are all drilling in northern West Virginia. An eighth rig is under contract and is expected to spud its first well in June. Two dedicated fracking crews are currently active in the play, with plans to add a third during 4Q2012.

The company said that during 1Q2012 it drilled and completed nine horizontal wells in the Marcellus, with an average 24-hour peak rate of 14 MMcf/d. Antero said its current gross operated production from the play is 293 MMcf/d, 98% of which is coming from 81 horizontal wells, resulting in 226 MMcf/d of net production.

Antero said construction of a natural gas processing facility at West Union, WV was underway. The company plans to build the 200 MMcf/d Sherwood II plant with an in service date of 2Q2013 (see Shale Daily, May 7). Meanwhile MarkWest Energy Partners LP will build and have the Sherwood I plant (also 200 MMcf/d capacity) online by 3Q2012.

According to Antero, progress was also being made on pipelines that will support the Sherwood plant. The company said it is building the Canton Pipeline, a 17-mile low pressure lateral, and the White Oak Pipeline, a high pressure lateral. Both pipelines will connect Doddridge County, WV, to the Sherwood plant and are expected to go into service in 4Q2012. MarkWest is also building an NGL pipeline to connect to fractionation facilities in Houston, PA. Antero said NGLs would be trucked until the pipeline is in service in 4Q2012.

In the Piceance Basin, where Antero has 63,000 net acres, the company is using one fracking crew and is operating two drilling rigs -- one in the liquids-rich Mesaverde acreage, the other in the Niobrara formation of the Mancos Shale. The company said gross operated production in the Piceance currently totals 56 MMcf/d and 60 MMcfe/d net, which includes 2 MMcfe/d of nonoperated production from 236 wells online. The 60 MMcfe/d figure includes about 39 MMcf/d of tailgate gas, 2,800 b/d of NGLs and 800 b/d of light oil.

Antero said it is no longer operating a drilling rig in the Woodford Shale -- where it owns 66,000 net acres -- and has no plans to operate a rig there for the remainder of 2012. The company said it currently has 59 MMcf/d of gross operated production from 134 operated horizontal wells online in the play, and 69 MMcfe/d of net production (64 MMcf/d tailgate gas, 800 b/d NGLs, 15 b/d light oil).

The company's presence in the Fayetteville Shale remains small, only 5,000 net acres. Antero said 10 MMcf/d of net nonoperated production is being generated from nine nonoperated wells in the play. Antero has a combined 30% interest in those wells.

Adjusted net revenues totaled $172.6 million during the quarter, up 76% from $98.2 million in 1Q2011. Adjusted net income also grew between the two quarters, from $9.9 million to $46.3 million.

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