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Monday, July 29, 2013

Science Is the Key to Finding Utica Shale Treasures

From The Motley Fool:
So far, Gulfport Energy (NASDAQ: GPOR  ) has had the best success rate in targeting the liquids rich part of the play. The company is spending $499 million of its $570 million capital budget this year on the Utica. Those funds will help drive the company's production from just over 7,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day last year to more than 21,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day this year. This is mainly due to the fact that Gulfport has been drilling some of the best wells in the play.
Chesapeake has also found some of the more successful areas of the play. It expects to see its production jump from 60 mmfce/d, where it ended the first quarter, all the way to 300 mmcfe/d by the end of the year. Chesapeake has not only found some of the better spots, but by moving to multi-well pad drilling, it expects to shave about 30% off its well costs, which will help to boost its returns.
Range and EQT are relative newcomers to the play, as both have focused more extensively on the Marcellus. That focus has enabled them to be among the lowest cost natural-gas producers in the country, which enables both to profit even as natural gas prices stay low. The joint project in the Utica is designed to find the most economical ways to target that play, so that overall returns won't be harmed. 
The takeaway for investors is pretty clear: the potential to earn solid returns from the Utica remains. The trick will be finding the best ways to develop the play. As first movers, Chesapeake and Gulfport have already laid claim to some great spots in the play, which is a reminder of the rewards of being a first mover. On the other hand, Devon's big miss highlights the risk of being a first mover. That's why Range and EQT are banding together with a couple other peers and using science as leverage to find the right techniques to develop the play. That will help both companies deliver returns, but with less risk of coming up dry. 
Read the entire article here.

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