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Ohio Utica Shale

Noble Energy production up 56 percent in DJ Basin, Marcellus

By Bob Downing Published: July 24, 2014

From Noble Energy today:

HOUSTON, July 24, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Noble Energy, Inc. (NYSE: NBL) announced today second quarter 2014 net income of $192 million, or $0.52 per diluted share on total revenues of $1.4 billion. Excluding the impact of certain items, which would typically not be considered by analysts in published earnings estimates, second quarter 2014 adjusted income(1) was $318 million, or $0.87 per diluted share. Discretionary cash flow(1) was $887 million and net cash provided by operating activities was $827 million. Capital expenditures for the second quarter of 2014 totaled $1.3 billion.

Key highlights for the second quarter of 2014 include:

  • Delivered record horizontal production of 112 thousand barrels of oil equivalent per day (MBoe/d) from the DJ Basin and Marcellus Shale plays, 56 percent higher than second quarter of last year
  • Increased wet gas type curves 10 percent for wells in the Majorsville area of the Marcellus Shale play
  • Announced plans to form Marcellus midstream MLP
  • Exploration discovery made at the Katmai prospect located in the Gulf of Mexico
  • Acquired interest in 17 exploration lease blocks in the Atwater Valley area of the Gulf of Mexico and spud initial prospect
  • Leviathan resource estimate increased 16 percent to 22 trillion cubic feet equivalent (Tcfe) of natural gas
  • Signed two regional export letters of intent for natural gas sales to LNG facilities in Egypt.
  • Closed China asset sale, receiving $186 million in proceeds

Charles D. Davidson, Noble Energy's Chairman and CEO, commented, "We continued to make great progress on numerous fronts during the second quarter and find ourselves well-positioned to accelerate our growth profile in the second half of 2014 and into 2015. Our U.S. onshore horizontal programs have set yet another quarterly volume record and new completion techniques are enhancing well performance in both the DJ Basin and Marcellus programs. Our Gulf of Mexico program has built significant momentum with a commercial oil discovery at Katmai, as well as by adding a significant new lease position with attractive and sizeable prospects. In the meantime, development work is rapidly proceeding on prior Gulf discoveries, which will begin to deliver new production in 2015. In West Africa, both Aseng and Alen reached production milestones in the quarter. Finally in the Eastern Mediterranean, we have announced letters of intent with two new customers for over 1.1 Bcf/d that support the expansion at Tamar and first phase of Leviathan development. I am excited about the progress we are making and our outlook for the coming months and years."

Second quarter 2014 sales volumes averaged 290 MBoe/d, an increase of 14 percent compared to the second quarter of 2013, after adjusting for divested assets. Total liquid sales were up 18 percent. U.S. sales volumes comprised 57 percent of the total and the remaining 43 percent came from International operations. U.S. volumes increased 25 percent, after adjusting for divested assets, driven by the continued horizontal development of the Marcellus Shale and DJ Basin plays. Internationally, volumes were up slightly as Alen volumes in Equatorial Guinea, which started up in the third quarter of last year, more than offset natural declines at Aseng.

Global crude oil and condensate prices averaged $102.53 per barrel for the second quarter of 2014. Natural gas realizations averaged $4.24 per thousand cubic feet (Mcf) in the U.S. and $5.57 per Mcf in Israel. Natural gas liquid pricing in the U.S. averaged 34 percent of the average West Texas Intermediate crude oil price for the quarter.

Second quarter 2014 total production costs, including lease operating expense (LOE), production and ad valorem taxes, and transportation and gathering averaged $9.40 per barrel of oil equivalent (Boe). LOE and depreciation, depletion and amortization (DD&A) per Boe were $5.84 and $15.65, respectively. Exploration expense for the quarter was $59 million, which had no substantial dry hole costs or seismic expenditures. General and administrative expenses reflected an increase in staffing for major development and exploration activities.

Included in the adjustments to net income for the second quarter of 2014 were gains associated with non-core property sales, impairments to reflect the updated estimate of abandonment cost on non-producing properties and a non-cash commodity derivative loss. The effective tax rate on adjusted earnings for the quarter was 22 percent and the deferred portion of taxes on adjusted earnings was 63 percent.

In the DJ Basin, sales volumes averaged 98 MBoe/d for the second quarter of 2014. Horizontal production averaged 70 MBoe/d, a quarterly record and up 33 percent compared to the same quarter last year. Production volumes for the quarter were lower than expected due to the Company's decision to upgrade facilities for over 60 wells, third-party processing plant downtime and related higher line pressures in certain areas of the field, as well as longer drilling lead times associated with extended reach lateral wells and larger pads. Drilling activity in the quarter included 80 operated wells of which 53 wells had standard length laterals and 27 wells were extended reach. Well completions totaled 66, while 85 wells were brought online.

Underlying well performance of the base program remains strong for both standard and extended length laterals, consistent with associated type curves. Downspacing and new completion techniques were also evaluated in the quarter. The Loeffler pad, the Company's initial downspacing test, continued to track above the type curve for the area. On the recently finished Peppler/Peaks pad, located in the Core IDP, a plug-n-perf completion design was employed in place of the traditional sliding sleeves design on two of the three wells. Initial 60-day results from the plug-n-pref design are showing more than 50 percent improvement versus the sliding sleeves completion. Additional testing is planned in the second half of the year. At the AA21 econode, including 12 wells in the Wells Ranch IDP, the Company tested multiple completions techniques and is using downhole measurement equipment to capture specific stage level recovery data. The pad has been on line for 30 days and all of the wells are exceeding expectations. The Company is operating 10 drilling rigs across the basin, primarily focused in the Wells Ranch and East Pony IDPs.

In the Marcellus Shale, volumes averaged a record 249 million cubic feet of natural gas equivalent per day (MMcfe/d) for the second quarter, a 120 percent increase versus the same quarter of last year. Gross production from the Joint Venture surpassed 650 MMcfe/d, up from the 70 MMcfe/d when it was formed three years ago. In the quarter, 24 operated wells were drilled averaging over 7,200 lateral feet and 12 operated wells initiated production.

Based on encouraging production performance in Majorsville, type curves for wells with standard completion designs were raised by 10 percent to a projected recovery of 10 Bcfe for a 7,000 foot lateral length well. The WFN6 pad in the Majorsville area came online in the quarter and had a 30-day rate of over 65 MMcfe/d from eight wells averaging over 6,100 lateral feet. Over the last 60 days of production the pad has tracked 50 percent above type curves for that area. Two of the wells were completed using enhanced completion techniques and experienced production rates 15 to 30 percent above standard completions on the same pad.

Joint Venture partner, CONSOL Energy, drilled 24 wells and brought online 23 wells from a number of pads. In addition, 6 recompletions were performed in the Greenhill area of Greene County PA. Two of the wells were turned to production at initial rates over 4 MMcf/d each, a substantial increase from the 200 to 400 Mcf/d the wells were producing prior to the recompletion. Combined, the Joint Venture partners are operating 10 horizontal rigs split between the wet and dry gas portions of the acreage.



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Utica and Marcellus shale web sites

Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management State agency Web site.

ODNR Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management. State drilling permits. List is updated weekly.

ODNR Division of Geological Survey.

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Pipeline, blog from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Marcellus shale drilling.

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