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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Well Backlog in Utica and Marcellus Shale Plays is Reduced

From Seeking Alpha:
It's hard not to talk about the recent infrastructure delays plaguing the Northeast right now. At BTU Analytics, we've recently highlighted delays/cancellations of Tennessee Gas Pipeline's Northeast Energy Direct (NYSE:NED) and Constitution, looked at the potential impacts to the Southeast power market if Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) and Atlantic Coast Pipeline are delayed, and theorized what would happen if no more pipes out of the Northeast are built. However, all of these topics look pretty far into the future. After all, NED was originally scheduled for 2018 and even this year there aren't many major takeaway projects coming online. So the question remains, what happens before then? Will anemic drilling activity and the Marcellus & Utica well backlog hold producers over until infrastructure comes online or will we see significant declines in production? 
The answer to that question lies in the Marcellus & Utica well backlog - or as others call it the 'fracklog'. Well backlog consists primarily of wells that have been drilled, but uncompleted (DUCs) and wells that have been completed, but still on backlog ((COBs) - as we call them at BTU). DUCs have been discussed widely in the industry and are prevalent outside of the Northeast, however COBs are more unique and mainly a function of the capacity constraints in the Northeast where wells are completed but waiting for a midstream tie in to be turned to sale. Of course there is always delay between the spudding of a well and when it is turned to sale, so we will only be considering excess backlog, meaning wells that have been in backlog in excess of the spud to sales time.

Due to the reduction in drilling activity we have seen this excess backlog fall dramatically since the start of this year. BTU Analytics estimates that this backlog has fallen by over 600 wells in the past 6 months alone to maintain and even grow production through the winter.
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