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Eclipse NatGas Production Continues Growing, But 2Q Profits Fall

Ohio pure-play Eclipse Resources Corp. plans to continue focusing on its dry natural gas acreage for the rest of the year, where it's currently testing tighter downspacing that could potentially increase its drilling locations there by 20%.

"Given the current commodity price decks, we will continue to focus our operated drilling activity in our Utica Shale dry gas acreage in Monroe County for the remainder of the year," said CEO Benjamin Hulburt during the company's second quarter earnings conference call on Thursday. "We continue to see these wells generate high economic returns at current strip prices, and they will underpin our plan to significantly grow production through the end of 2017."

As it focuses entirely on dry natural gas production, Eclipse said it would also continue to maintain 15 net drilled, but uncompleted wells in its condensate area. Whenever liquids prices improve, Hulbert said, those wells would be completed and turned to sales. The company went public last summer and its production has steadily increased since then (see Shale DailyJune 23).

Eclipse produced 198.6 MMcfe/d during the second quarter, up 374% from the year-ago period and 24% from the previous quarter. Production consisted of 57% natural gas, 23% natural gas liquids and 20% oil. The company drilled 8 gross wells, completed 15 gross wells and turned 19 gross wells to sales during the quarter.

One of those turn-in-lines was the three well Sawyers pad in Monroe County, which was the company's first 715-foot downspacing test in its dry gas window (see Shale DailyJune 3) The company's wells have been spaced at 1,000 feet. Eclipse is currently conducting flow and pressure tests at the pad to determine if it can apply the tighter spacing elsewhere in the window and significantly increase its drilling locations there.

With the company's growth, its gas marketing strategy has improved as well. During the second quarter, Eclipse began flowing into its firm capacity on the Texas Eastern Transmission pipeline and the Rockies Express pipeline.

While average realized prices, including hedges, declined from $6.82/Mcfe a year ago to $3.82/Mcfe in the second quarter, they were up over 1Q2015 prices of $3.42/Mcfe. Revenue increased 176% from 2Q2014 on growing production, reaching $74.5 million in the second quarter, which was also up from 1Q2015 revenue of $43.8 million.

The company reported a net loss, however, of $42 million (minus 19 cents/share). It also recorded a $4.4 million impairment on unproven properties with the fall in commodity prices. The company's net loss was up from one of $34.1 million (minus 17 cents/share) in 1Q2015, but down from a net loss of $112.6 million (minus 84 cents/share) in the year-ago period. 

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