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PDC Beats 2Q Guidance, Adds Rigs in Utica, Wattenberg

After selling most of its dry gas assets early last year to focus on drilling in Colorado’s Wattenberg Field and Ohio's Utica Shale (see Shale Daily, Feb. 11, 2013), PDC Energy Inc.'s push to produce more liquids continued to pay off in the second quarter, when it beat its production guidance by more than 10%.

The move away from a drier production mix began in earnest early this year when PDC said that it would aim to boost its liquids mix to 60% of total production. Those efforts continued last quarter when the company sold off its stake in a 131,000 net acre joint venture in the Marcellus Shale's southern dry gas window, where it had suspended drilling due to depressed prices (see Shale DailyJuly 30).

PDC said production in 2Q2014 was up 64% year-over-year to 29,700 boe/d. In 1Q2014, the company said it nearly doubled year-over-year production by producing 26,700 boe/d (see Shale Daily,May 7). Much of the company's second quarter gains came from the success of the Wattenberg Field in Weld County, CO, where PDC turned in line all of its 28 operated wells during the quarter.

Wetter production in the field also helped to insulate the company from some of the stress other operators with substantial positions in the Northeast experienced last quarter with depressed natural gas prices (see Shale DailyAug. 7Aug. 6July 29July 25July 24). PDC produced 16,350 b/d of oil and natural gas liquids, which accounted for 66% of total production last quarter.

Wells Fargo Securities analysts called the production beat "huge," and noted how higher volumes helped the company to unexpectedly gain on its realized commodity prices.

Before hedges, the average sales price for PDC's crude oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids last quarter increased 10% from the year-ago period to $51.78/boe. Natural gas price realizations alone increased 7% to $4.08/Mcf from $3.79/Mcf in 2Q2013. 

CEO Bart Brookman said the addition of a fifth rig in the Wattenberg and a second rig in the Utica Shale last quarter should keep production growing through the third and fourth quarters and help the company to meet or exceed its full-year guidance of 29,300-29,850 boe/d.

Financial analysts also said a recent deal in Colorado to withdraw two local control measures that could have been on the ballot helped to take some uncertainty out of the equation for the state's oil and gas industry (see Shale DailyAug. 5).

Despite better realized prices last quarter, derivatives losses and higher production costs held back profits at PDC. The company reported a net loss of $28.2 million, or 79 cents/share, compared to net income of $19.9 million, or 64 cents/share in 2Q2013.

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