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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Hess President: Harrison County is the Sweet Spot of the Utica Shale

From Seeking Alpha's transcript of a Hess earnings call to discuss the company's second quarter results:
Jeffrey L. Campbell - Tuohy Brothers Investment Research, Inc.My second question was if commodity prices remained depressed in 2016, will you continue to concentrate Utica drilling in Harrison County or do you have any requirements to hold acreage elsewhere that would require you to drill in another county in 2016? 
Gregory P. Hill - President & Chief Operating OfficerIt's on the margins. There isn't any significant HBP requirement so obviously if prices do continue where they are, we're going to continue in Harrison County and why do we do that because that's truly the sweet spot of the play. It's the wettest part of the play and it also has a 95% net revenue interest as well on that acreage. So obviously that helps the economics. 
That's not a viewpoint that has been heard a whole lot over the past year or two, as counties like Belmont and Monroe have gained more attention for being the location of many prolific wells.  However, Harrison County quietly has remained the busiest spot in the Utica shale that isn't named Carroll County.  On the first quarter 2015 production report from the ODNR, Harrison was the only county other than Carroll to have over 100 wells producing (151 listed on the report, 145 of which had some actual production), and only two counties (Guernsey and Morgan) averaged more oil production per well than Harrison County.  It also ranked fifth in gas produced per well.

There were some other nuggets of information regarding the Utica shale in the earnings call as well:
Moving to the Utica. In the second quarter the joint venture drilled 10 wells, completed 15, and brought 9 on production. Net production for the second quarter averaged 22,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day compared to 7,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day in the year-ago quarter and 17,000 barrels of oil in the first quarter of 2015. 
Similar to our Bakken position, our Utica acreage is largely held by production, which allows us to reduce activity in the short term while preserving the long-term upside. As previously mentioned, due to the current pricing environment the joint venture elected to focus activities on the liquids-rich Harrison County acreage utilizing a single Hess-operated rig across the JV. 
We continue to drive down our well costs in the Utica. Through application of our distinctively manufacturing capability and supply chain reductions, we now project our 2015 full-year drilling and completion costs in the Utica to average between $9.2 million and $9.5 million per well as compared to $13.7 million in 2014. 
As a result of improving efficiency, we now forecast that the JV will drill 20 to 25 wells and bring 25 to 30 new wells online in 2015. Well productivity continues to be encouraging and as a result, we're increasing our 2015 net production guidance by 5,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day to a range of 20,000 to 25,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

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