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Range Continues Divesting Noncore Assets With Northeast Pennsylvania Sale

Continuing its plans to divest noncore assets and generate more cash for its balance sheet, Range Resources Corp. said Friday it has agreed to sell 11,000 non-operated acres in Bradford County, PA, to an undisclosed operator for $112 million.

Those properties represent 20 MMcf/d of production for Range, CEO Jeff Ventura said. They are currently operated by Repsol SA. Last year, the company completed a deal to sell its coalbed methane assets in Virginia's Nora Field for $865 million, and the company is currently marketing its STACK (Sooner Trend, Anadarko, Canadian and Kingfisher) assets in Oklahoma (see Shale DailyDec. 31, 2015).

During 2015, the company reduced its total debt by $378 million to $2.7 billion. This year, the company said it would keep controlling costs, announcing a $495 million capital budget, down 45% from 2015 levels and 69% from 2014 levels. CFO Roger Manny said the company would conserve cash further this year by cutting its dividend in half from 4 cents/share each quarter to 2 cents.

The Marcellus Shale continued to drive the company's production in 2015. In the fourth quarter, Range produced 1.3 Bcfe/d, up from 1.08 Bcfe/d in the year-ago period and flat when compared to 3Q2015 production of 1.4 Bcfe/d, representing lost production from the Nora sale. The Marcellus accounted for 1.03 Bcfe/d of production during the fourth quarter.

For the full year, Range produced 1.4 Bcfe/d, up from 1.2 Bcfe/d in 2014. Range forecasted 2016 production at 1.39-1.42 Bcfe/d, which would grow by 10% at the high end compared to its 2015 exit.

Management said all of the company's operations this year would be focused in the Marcellus in Southwest Pennsylvania. More takeaway capacity and more production data prompted the company to increase its absolute estimated ultimate recoveries (EUR) in the area for wells it will turn inline this year. Range said absolute EURs would increase from 12.9 Bcfe in 2015 to 16 Bcfe this year.

As a result, the company said its nascent deep, dry Utica Shale assets in Southwest Pennsylvania would take a backseat to the Marcellus. The company has brought online two Utica wells in the region since 2014 that have thus far produced 4.2 Bcf combined (see Shale DailyDec. 15, 2014). COO Ray Walker said the company is currently completing a third deep Utica well with a 5,800-foot lateral and 38 fracture stages.

He said that well would ultimately cost $17 million. The company hopes to bring costs for its Utica wells down to $12-14 million once full development starts. Range plans to bring its third Utica well online before the end of 2Q2016.

"We're encouraged by these early results and we see potential for further enhancements both in cost and performance," Walker said. "The Utica costs almost two-and-a-half times more than our dry Marcellus, while achieving about the same production. While the Utica represents tremendous future resource potential, even with anticipated efficiencies, the return from our Marcellus wells far exceed the Utica."

While last year's operational gains were no match for the low commodity price environment, Range said it expects to earn higher netbacks for its natural gas liquids production this year. Sunoco Logistics Partners LP's Mariner East 1 pipeline is now fully operational (see related story). The company has started shipping 20,000 b/d of ethane and 20,000 b/d of propane to the Marcus Hook terminal near Philadelphia for distribution to domestic and international markets.

Ethane exports are expected to begin within days, both Range and Sunoco said, and Range has already started to hedge the spread between the Mont Belvieu, TX, propane index and respective European and Asian indices. The company anticipates that its realized NGL prices will average 23-25% of the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) price this year, compared to 17.6% of WTI in 2015.

Range said its full-year 2015 natural gas, NGL and oil price realizations, including hedges, averaged $3.18/Mcfe, which was down 28% from 2014. Partly as a result, the company said its revenue declined from $2.4 billion in 2014 to $1.6 billion last year.

Range reported a fourth quarter net loss of $321.8 million (minus $1.93/share), compared to net income of $284 million ($1.68/share) in 4Q2014.

The company's full year net loss was $713.7 million (minus $4.29/share), compared to a profit of $634.4 million ($3.79/share) in 2014. The company also reported a full-year impairment of its proved oil and gas properties of more than $590 million.

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