Appalachian pure-play Antero Resources Corp. said it produced a record 1.5 Bcfe/d in the first quarter, adding the caveat that the growth would stall for most of the year on plans to defer the completion of 50 horizontal Marcellus Shale wells this quarter and next.

The company had already announced that move at the end of the fourth quarter, with CFO Glenn Warren saying Antero wanted the "optionality" to accelerate if commodity prices improve in the near term (see Shale Daily, Feb. 27). Management estimated in February that those 50 wells represent nearly 400 MMcfe/d in deferred production. CEO Paul Rady said in an update on Thursday that production would likely decrease in the coming months before the company ramps up slightly in the fourth quarter to resume production growth in 2016.

Antero expects to exit the year producing about 1.4 Bcfe/d.

The company also said it had reduced its drilling rigs from 21 to 11 in the first quarter, a slight deviation from what Rady said in February would be a 14-rig program this year. Additionally, Antero has reduced its completion crews working in Ohio and West Virginia from 10 to seven.

First quarter production increased 89% from the year-ago period, when the company produced 786 MMcfe/d. It increased 17% from fourth quarter production of 1.2 Bcfe/d. Antero's first quarter liquids production, meanwhile, increased markedly to 40,000 b/d, up from 16,332 b/d in 1Q2014. 

Overall, Antero produced 1.2 Bcf/d of natural gas, 4,000 b/d of oil and 36,000 b/d of natural gas liquids last quarter.

The company completed 41 wells in the Marcellus last quarter, where it currently has seven rigs and two completion crews working. Thirty of those wells have been online for more than a month with an average 30-day production rate of 13 MMcfe/d. The 41 wells were completed with short stage lengths and averaged a combined lateral length of 8,150 feet.

In the Utica Shale, Antero said it achieved record production of 274 MMcfe/d, including 11,300 b/d of liquids. But it also said limited completions occurred in the play, where it's transitioning to seven-well pads. There are 45 Utica well completions planned for the remainder of the year, including three seven-well pads that are expected to be completed in the third quarter, the company said.