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Antero Boosted 4Q Production, Added Hedges

Antero Resources Corp. exited 2014 with production averaging a little more than 1 Bcfe/d, exceeding the midpoint of its guidance and demonstrating that it is positioned to handle the downturn in commodity prices, at least through the first part of this year.

The company got a boost from additional firm transportation capacity on the Rockies Express and Columbia pipelines and from its hedges in the fourth quarter. After hedges, Antero's average realized natural gas price for the quarter was $4.39/Mcf, or a 39 cent premium to the New York Mercantile Exchange (Nymex) price, while it received $78.24/bbl for oil after hedges, or a $5.08 premium to average Nymex prices.

"During this past quarter, we reacted to the declining commodity price environment and moved to protect our 2015 and 2016 cash flows by adding to our hedge book, which had a mark-to-market value of $1.6 billion at year-end 2014," said CEO Paul Rady. "As part of this strategy, we put on our first ever propane hedges, at a relatively attractive pricing, in order to eliminate virtually all of our 2015 propane price exposure."

Antero also acknowledged earlier this month that it was looking to control costs and preserve more money for Appalachian development by working to lay off about half of its contracted land broker workforce (see Shale Daily, Jan. 6). The company did not release any details about this year's spending plans when it issued an operational update late Wednesday. The company is expected to report 4Q2014 earnings late next month.

"The market focus remains on 2015," said analysts at Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. "[Antero] is strongly positioned relative to peers and won't need to cut in early 2015 given hedging insulation. Therefore, no reason to anticipate revisions to 2015 growth guidance" of 45-50% above 2014 production levels.

Rady said the company has increased its hedges to cover 90% of its expected 2015 natural gas production at an average index price of $4.42/MMBtu.

The company is still running 21 rigs in the Appalachian Basin, where it completed 136 Marcellus Shale wells and 41 Utica Shale wells last year. The company produced 1.27 Bcfe/d in the fourth quarter, including 14% natural gas liquids (NGL), up 87% from 4Q2013 (see Shale Daily, Feb. 27, 2014). Full-year production, which exceeded 2013 volumes by 93%, consisted of 86% natural gas, 12% NGLs and 2% oil.

Antero also said it acquired 12,000 net acres, primarily in Monroe County, OH, for $240 million last month. The property included 20 MMcfe/d of current net production, but the company did not disclose the seller.

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