While it let go of acreage in the Arkoma and Piceance basins last year, production from Antero Resources' booming Marcellus Shale activities more than made up for their absence in the company's portfolio of producing assets.
Excluding the Arkoma and Piceance Basin assets sold (see Shale Daily, Nov. 6, 2012; June 5, 2012), net production increased 93% from 2011 to 87 Bcfe. Including the sold assets, Antero net production increased by 37% year over year to 122 Bcfe, primarily driven by new wells brought online in the Marcellus Shale. Net production was 115 Bcf of natural gas, 955,000 bbl of natural gas liquids (NGL) and 310,000 bbl of oil.
CEO Paul Rady said, "2012 was a transformational year for Antero as we divested our Arkoma and Piceance Basin properties as well as sold a portion of our Marcellus midstream assets for a combined total of $1.2 billion. That capital was quickly redeployed into the Marcellus Shale, where we added 84,000 net acres of leasehold, and the Utica Shale, where we established our initial position and added 73,000 net acres of leasehold. Virtually all of the roughly 157,000 net acres of new leasehold was located in the rich gas window of the two plays."
Current gross operated production is 487 MMcf/d, and estimated net production is 390 MMcfe/d, including 2,500 b/d of NGLs and 175 b/d of oil. Virtually all of the company's production is from 135 Antero-operated horizontal Marcellus wells. Antero has an additional 115 MMcfe/d of net production in the Marcellus and Utica shales associated with seven new horizontal wells that are shut-in waiting on infrastructure and a number of producing wells that are constrained and waiting on pipeline, compression or processing facilities.
Antero is operating 13 rigs in the southwestern core of the Marcellus, including two shallow rigs, all of which are drilling in northern West Virginia. The company plans to add an additional big drilling rig in May. Antero has 485 MMcf/d of gross operated production in the play, virtually all of which is coming from 135 horizontal wells, resulting in 389 MMcf/d of net production.
The 135 horizontal Marcellus wells that Antero has placed on line to date have an average 24-hour peak rate of 13.8 MMcf/d, an average estimated ultimate recovery of 10.5 Bcfe assuming ethane rejection and an average lateral length of 6,956 feet. The company has 305,000 net acres in the Marcellus, of which only 20% was associated with proved reserves at year-end 2012. About 80% of Antero's Marcellus leasehold contains processable rich gas.
In the Utica Shale, the company is operating two rigs in the rich gas/condensate window of the southern core in Ohio. In December Antero placed its first well on line, which is currently producing to sales and has an additional 25 MMcfe/d of net production that is shut-in waiting on infrastructure associated with the two remaining wells completed during 2012. In total, Antero has completed three horizontal wells in the Utica and has drilled an additional four, three of which are being completed. The three wells that are being completed are drilled on one pad and are the company's first increased-density pilot in the Utica.
Antero has assembled more than 88,000 net acres in the southern core of the Utica Shale play of eastern Ohio. Almost all of the acreage is believed to be located in the rich gas/condensate window, the company said.
"Our 93% net production growth in the Marcellus in 2012 illustrates the execution capability of our team as well as the growth potential of this play," said CFO Glen Warren. "The combination of growing liquids production, a large long-term natural gas hedge position and low finding and development costs should lead to sustainable, profitable growth for Antero for years to come."