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Appalachian Assets Lift Magnum's Proved Reserves

Magnum Hunter Resources Corp. said Wednesday its estimated proved oil and natural gas reserves increased by 23% year/year in 2013, thanks in large part to Marcellus Shale assets in West Virginia.

Proved reserves increased to 75.9 MMboe at the end of 2013, up from 61.6 MMboe in 2012, during a year in which reserves declined as a result of a 19,000-acre divestiture in the Eagle Ford Shale. A sale to Penn Virginia Corp. completed in April earned Magnum $401 million for acreage in Gonzales and Lavaca counties, TX, where the company had drilled some of its best all-time wells (see Shale Daily, April 4, 2013; Dec. 31, 2012).

Although a large part of the Texas factored into the company's strategy to focus more intently on the Pearsall Shale also in South Texas, it was more emblematic of the company's aggressive push in recent years to grow its reserves and portfolio with a series of divestitures and acquisitions to grow its footprint in emerging unconventional resource plays. Magnum said the Appalachian Basin accounted for 70% of its proved reserve volumes, with the Williston Basin in North Dakota and assets in South Texas accounting for the rest.

Magnum plans to spend more than half of its 2014 capital budget in the Marcellus and its emerging Utica Shale position (see Shale Daily, Dec. 12, 2013).

"Our ability to grow both production and reserves at the highest internal rate of return within our existing asset base undoubtedly lies in our acreage position located in the Utica and Marcellus Shale resource plays," CEO Gary Evans said last month.

On Wednesday, Evans said three of Magnum's new Marcellus wells are estimated to have more than 10.5 Bcfe of proved reserves per well, with one estimated to be above 11.7 Bcfe. Going further, Evans said 55% of the Marcellus wells exceed the average estimated type curve of 7.8 Bcfe.

"This past year's growth in proved reserves was primarily attributable to our success in the Marcellus Shale play of West Virginia and southeastern Ohio," he said. "We were successful at replacing over 100% of the reserves lost in 2013 due to asset divestitures which included our Eagle Ford division."

With few details yet released on Magnum's Utica production, financial analysts have their eyes on the Stalder pad in Monroe County, OH, designed to handle 10 Marcellus and 8 Utica wells in the play's dry gas window. Topeka Capital Markets analyst Gabriele Sorbara said in a note to clients the first Utica well on the pad should test at an initial production rate of 15-30 MMcf/d. Those results are expected soon.

Sorbara said the organic increase in proved reserves and the eventual addition of Utica reserves would help provide upside to the company's borrowing base, giving it more liquidity and less dependent on asset sales going forward.

Excluding taxes, Magnum said the current value of its reserves increased 22% to $922.1 million. Of the 75.9 million boe reported Wednesday, 46% are estimated to consist of oil and natural gas liquids. Producing reserves in 2013 also increased by 16% to 39.6 million boe, with a reserve life at current production rates of about 12 years.

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