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Eclipse Resources Hires Financial Adviser for Strategic Review

Appalachian pure-play Eclipse Resources Corp. said this week that it is exploring a “full range” of strategic, operational and financial alternatives to maximize shareholder value.

The company has hired Jefferies LLC as its financial adviser and Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP as its legal counsel to assist with the process. While the company did not say exactly what it is considering, CEO Benjamin Hulburt said it would review “all alternatives available” and take the steps necessary to “achieve the best strategy for our shareholders, partners and employees.

“We have developed an industry leading drilling capability that we believe would benefit greatly from increased scale and acceleration, while at the same time reducing the company’s general and administrative costs and interest expense on a per unit of production basis,” he said. “We are proud of what we have accomplished and believe now is an appropriate time to explore alternatives to continue increasing shareholder value.”

The small-cap company went public in 2014. It has worked to boost estimated ultimate recoveries, efficiency and returns with its super lateral program. The company drilled its first extended reach lateral two years ago in the Ohio condensate window of Guernsey County. The Purple Hayes 1H stretched 18,544 feet and the company has since drilled several more wells with lengths over 19,000 and 20,000 feet.

Building on that program, the company said Monday that it has drilled its longest Utica dry gas well, the Wiley D 8H, with a total measured depth of 30,130 feet and a lateral of 19,335 feet. The well was drilled from spud to total depth in 20.5 days, setting a new lateral length record for the company.

Eclipse said there is no assurance that a review by its board of directors would result in a transaction or other alternative. The board has not set a timetable to complete the process and Eclipse said it would not comment on any developments until the board is ready or required by law to do so. The review process, the company added, was not sparked by any transaction proposal.

Eclipse also said this week that two Marcellus Shale condensate wells it turned to sales in January in Ohio’s Monroe County to de-risk the acreage are performing better than expected. Average initial production from the wells is 6.7 MMcf/d, with 68 barrels of condensate per MMcf. The company has updated its Marcellus condensate type curve as a result to 1.8 Bcfe per 1,000 foot of lateral.

“These results exceed our anticipated expectations and help de-risk this set of high returning, liquids weighted locations, and we remain excited for the prospect of this area becoming a more meaningful part of our drilling program in the future, as we can now co-develop both the Utica and Marcellus on the same pad,” Hulburt said.

Eclipse holds 155,725 net acres in Ohio and Pennsylvania, but only 15,456 are prospective for the Marcellus. The company has identified 78 additional Marcellus locations in Ohio, where the formation is underdeveloped. 

Last year, the company moved outside of Ohio for the first time and acquired 44,500 net acres in north-central Pennsylvania. Eclipse has spud its first Utica well there, the Painter 2H. It is expected to have a lateral length of 13,500 feet in Tioga County and include a “number of scientific and data mining technical applications to allow us to further study the potential of this new area,” the company said. Eclipse expects to turn the well to sales in 3Q2018.

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