Ohio pure-play Ascent Resources LLC, the Utica Shale’s largest producer, said in a rare operational update that it expects to reach at least 2 Bcfe/d of production this year.
The privately owned producer said it achieved record production of 2.4 Bcfe/d gross and 1.9 Bcfe/d net in December. This year, it forecasts net production to average 2-2.2 Bcfe/d, consisting of 90% natural gas, 7% natural gas liquids and 3% crude oil. Management said 85% of anticipated gas production and 75% of expected oil output has been hedged.
“We believe 2019 will be an inflection point for Ascent as we achieve a size and scale that should allow us, at current strip prices, to reach cash flow neutrality before the end of 2019 and generate significant free cash flow in 2020 and beyond,” said CEO Jeff Fisher.
The company has amassed a leading position in the Utica core of southeastern Ohio with 311,000 net acres. It was also the most active operator, drilled the most footage and had the highest average initial production rate in the state last year, according to the Ohio Oil and Gas Association’s Debrosse Memorial Report.
Fischer said the company in 2018 operated 29 of the state’s 40 top gas wells and 21 of the 40 top oil wells.
Ascent plans to build on those marks this year, with capital expenditures set at $1.1-1.25 billion. Of that, up to $1.1 billion is to be spent on drilling and completion, while up to $170 million would go toward land expenses.
At the midpoint of its plan, Ascent said it would spud up to 100 gross wells, complete up to 110 gross wells and bring online up to 130 gross operated wells in 2019.
The company also saw a significant boost in its borrowing base in 2018 to $2 billion from $925 million to $2 billion. Proved reserves were 7.6 Tcfe at the end of last year.