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EVEP Cuts Capex, Delays Acreage Sale on Weak Prices

EV Energy Partners LP (EVEP) said it plans to cut its capital expenditures (capex) by 40% this year and is "accelerating" the sale of its stake in Utica East Ohio (UEO) midstream, but the company will delay selling some of its acreage in the Eagle Ford and Utica shales due to low oil and natural gas prices.

During a conference call Monday, EVEP Executive Chairman John Walker said most of the master limited partnership's (MLP) acreage is already held by production, so there isn't a significant inventory of wells that need to be drilled. Walker added that the proceeds from a sale of its 21% interest in the UEO midstream processing complex would be redeployed into long-life producing oil and gas properties (see Shale Daily, Nov. 4, 2014).

"With regard to acreage monetization in the Utica and Eagle Ford, we believe that with the current price environment it's prudent to delay that process until the outlook for commodities prices is more settled," Walker said. "However, we're exploring alternative structures with third parties to provide additional capital to drill undeveloped acreage and increase cash flow."

Last November, EVEP announced plans to sell its operated and non-operated joint venture (JV) acreage in Ohio's Utica Shale (see Shale Daily, Nov. 11, 2014).

According to EVEP's last investor presentation in December, the MLP holds 173,000 net working interest acres, and an overriding royalty interest on 880,000 gross acres, in the Utica Shale. In the Eagle Ford, EVEP sold its formation rights in Texas's Burleson, Brazos and Grimes counties to an undisclosed buyer for $30.6 million; it retained the rights to about 14,000 net acres in Fayette, Lee and Washington counties.

Walker and other EVEP executives said additional details would be presented during the MLP's 4Q2014 earnings call in four weeks.

In a separate statement Monday, the Houston-based MLP said it plans to spend between $55 million and $65 million on exploration and production (E&P) capex in 2015. By comparison, EVEP spent about $100 million on E&P capex in 2014. The partnership also plans to spend between $26 million and $32 million on capex for its 21% stake in midstream assets in 2015.

EVEP said it expects its 4Q2014 production to average approximately 171 MMcfe/d, a decrease of 2.7% from the third quarter. The company said its quarterly production in West Virginia was down an average 1.9 MMcfe/d due to a compressor change-out program.

Production for the full year 2015 is expected to range from 59,340 to 64,940 MMcfe, which includes 39,900-43,700 MMcf of natural gas; 990,000 to 1.08 million bbl of crude oil and 2.25 million to 2.46 million bbl of natural gas liquids (NGL). Average daily production is expected to range from 162.6 to 177.9 MMcfe/d.

Walker said the current merger and acquisition (M&A) environment for oil and NGLs is still "unstable."

"I've seen seven of these over the last 40 years," Walker said. "They all typically go down further and faster than anybody believes, but the shape of all of them have been a 'V.' Once prices stabilize, we'll see a very good market.

"There's definitely distressed assets out there right now. There are some gas assets, long-life gas assets, but the price of natural gas has started to fall also. It's conceivable that we're going to have to wait for overall stabilization, with the exception of distressed assets."

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