Quality of Sites Proving More Important Than Quantity for Shale Drillers
From the Wall Street Journal:
Like their bigger rivals, the upstarts frack to tap previously untouchable oil and gas deposits in dense shale formations. But these companies have focused on the right property instead of the most property—and raked in big stock paydays as a result.
For the most part, neither the less-is-more upstarts, nor the bigger-is-better graybeards are bringing in more than they spend to drill and frack. The difference is that Wall Street no longer is throwing cash at established shale players holding loads of acreage.
"It's quality over quantity. We don't have one million acres and we don't strive to have one million acres," says Daniel Rice IV, the 33-year-old chief executive of Rice Energy Inc.,RICE 0.00% which drilled its first well in 2009.
The company, which went public in January, has a stock-market value of $3.9 billion, its stock up 44% since its initial public offering. The Rice family owns a third of the stock.
Rice holds the rights to lease about 90,000 acres in the Marcellus Shale, nearly all in two counties in Pennsylvania and one in Ohio.
Compare that with Chesapeake Energy Corp. CHK 0.00% , which holds leases to drill on nearly 13 million acres in eight states, after vacuuming up as many leases as possible in the mid-2000s. Despite having the right to drill in an area 140 times that of Rice, Chesapeake's market value is $18.33 billion.