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Cash Hungry Magnum Hunter Plans to Sell Some Appalachian Acreage

Magnum Hunter Resources Corp. has added to a growing list of asset sales in order to shore up its weak liquidity position and help fund this year's capital expenditures, announcing Monday that it's marketing 5,000 net acres in the Appalachian Basin.

Management said more land sales are likely this year in either Ohio or West Virginia.

"These are sales that we deem not core from the standpoint of what our game plan is for the next two to three years and land that we would likely have to renew," said CEO Gary Evans. "So, today there's a little over 5,000 acres that we're talking to various parties about in Appalachia.

"Will there be some other one-off sales like we're working now? Most likely, because you know we can't drill it all and you're going to have some acreage that's not in the core," Evans added. "There's lots of trades going on today between all the companies. So I think you'll see us do more joint ventures (JV) and more acreage sales."

The planned acreage sales come in addition to several other liquidity events that have been in the works since the beginning of the year (see Shale DailyJan. 23). The company has 210,000 net acres in the Appalachian Basin. Evans said Magnum was also close to finalizing a joint venture for a portion of its 130,000 net acres in Ohio and added that the company has not ruled out another joint venture for some of its 80,000 net acres in the Marcellus Shale.

An Ohio JV, Evans said, could net the company about $450 million up front, mostly for drilling carry.

While Magnum has budgeted $100 million this year, it has total liquidity of just $20.7 million, of which $14.4 million is cash and $5.7 million is available under its credit facility. The company has tentatively suspended its operations and is hoping it can close on some of the deals it has in the works to free up more cash (seeShale DailyMarch 2).

"We think that once we get these liquidity events done here in the next 30-60 days and feel more comfortable about our liquidity position, then we can feel comfortable spending a little more money on some of these other wells," Evans said in response to a question about this year's production growth.

Magnum produced 14.7 Bcfe in the first quarter, compared to 8.9 Bcfe in the year-ago period. Volumes consisted of 74% natural gas as it's focused more heavily in the Appalachian Basin during the last year (see Shale DailyAug. 11, 2014). It drilled no new wells in the first quarter and expects to do the same this quarter. It is instead relying on recently completed wells and others in various stages of development to grow production and hit its 180-204 MMcfe/d guidance this year.

The company is also planning to sell a 5% interest in its midstream subsidiary Eureka Hunter LLC and is in negotiations for a natural gas marketing agreement in which a third party would assume some of its firm transportation liabilities to help free up credit.

"All the things that we've been talking about with regard to being able to improve the liquidity, there's nothing that we previously announced that is not working," Evans said. "These liquidity events total in the order of $200 million to $265 million and definitely get our ship righted. We believe we'll be able to announce some of this in a very short period of time and make the markets feel a little better about where we're going as a company."

If the company can raise more cash, Evans said, it would begin ramping-up exploration and production activities in the third and fourth quarters. It currently has no rigs running in the basin.

Falling commodity prices also cut into both revenues and profits last quarter. The company's average natural gas price went from $5.56/Mcf in the year-ago period to $2.91/Mcf in the first quarter. Revenue fell from $113.5 million to $55.4 million over the same period.

As a result, the company reported a net loss of $114.8 million (minus 57 cents/share), which was worse than the loss of $76.5 million (minus 41 cents/share) that Magnum reported for the same time last year. 

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