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PDC Energy Sells Assets to Focus on Utica, Wattenberg Plays

Denver-based PDC Energy Inc. has sold its Piceance and other mostly natural gas Colorado holdings to concentrate its drilling efforts in the Utica Shale in Ohio, along with Weld County's Wattenberg field in Colorado.

PDC said it sold its Piceance, NECO and other noncore Colorado holdings for $200 million to another Denver-based company, Caerus Oil and Gas LLC, which has ties to oil and natural gas investors in Oaktree Capital Management and Anschutz Investment Co. The deal is all cash and subject to price adjustments, according to PDC.

The sale's transaction date is Jan. 1, 2012, and it is expected to close in the second quarter.

PDC CEO James Trimble said the sale will allow PDC to concentrate on more high-return, liquids-rich prospects in both the Utica and Wattenberg plays. Proceeds from the sale better position PDC to "accelerate" its development in those two areas, Trimble said.

Assets that were sold are 99% gas, including an estimated 85 Bcfe of net proved producing reserves as of the end of 2012, PDC said. They currently produce 42 MMcfe/d, and the sale is expected to reduce PDC net production this year by about 10 Bcfe, the company said.

PDC said its year-end 2012 proved reserves had increased by nearly 1.2 Tcfe. Reserve replacement for the year totaled 512%, while proved reserves of liquids were up 48%. However, the company also reported that proved developed (PD) reserves decreased to 42% of total reserves, compared to 46% in 2011.

"The slight decrease in PD reserves was attributable to the company's large addition of proved undeveloped reserves in the liquids-rich Wattenberg, primarily in the horizontal Niobrara," PDC said.

The company said that last year the proportional share of natural gas was down relative to liquids. For 2012, proved reserves were 52% natural gas and 48% liquids; a year earlier the mix was 66% gas and 34% liquids.

PDC proved reserves were valued at $1.71 billion at the end of last year, compared to $1.35 billion at the end of 2011.

PDC will begin reporting reserves this year in barrel-equivalent terms, rather than Mcfe, Trimble said, adding that this "more accurately reflects the increased liquids mix of our asset base."

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