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Strong liquids output drives Antero Q2 production growth

Antero Resources Corp. saw its production rise to 3.27 Bcfe/d in the second quarter of 2019, an increase of 28 percent compared with the same period last year, with the production growth driven by strong liquids output.

The producer, which has assets in the Marcellus Shale and Ohio Utica plays, reported its total net production in the quarter averaged 3.23 Bcfe/d, including 156,441 barrels per day of liquids, which accounted for 29 percent of total production. Production of liquids — including C3+ hydrocarbon products, natural gas liquids and oil — increased by 38 percent compared to the prior-year period, the company said.

The quarter was also marked what the company believes to be a drilling record, Antero officials said in a conference call Aug 1. The producer drilled a total of 9,650 feet of horizontal lateral in a single day.

Officials said the achievement reflects the company's efforts to drive down operating costs through increased efficiencies. During the quarter, Antero's number of completion stages per day averaged 5.7, an increase from the 5.2 stages-per-day average in 2018.

"Further well cost reduction initiatives are underway, and we expect well costs to be 10 percent to 14 percent lower per foot by 2020, compared to our 2019 budgeted costs per foot," Chairman and CEO Paul Rady said in the company's July 31 earnings release.

In its second-quarter operations in the Marcellus Shale, Antero drilled 23 wells with an average lateral length of 12,500 feet and brought to sales 40 horizontal Marcellus wells. In the Ohio Utica Shale, the producer brought six horizontal wells to sales.

The company said that during the quarter it released one drilling rig and one completion crew and plans to operate an average of four drilling rigs, including three large rigs, and an average of three to four completion crews for the remainder of the year. For the full-year 2019, Antero said it continues to expect to drill 120 to 130 wells and place 115 to 125 wells online, consistent with its prior guidance.

Antero officials said they are targeting 110 to 120 completions in 2020, with an average lateral length of 12,100 feet as compared to 115 to 125 estimated completions in 2019, with an average lateral length of 10,200 feet, for a 14% increase in total lateral feet completed.

Antero's preliminary drilling and completion capital budget for 2020 is $1.2 billion to $1.3 billion. In addition to drilling and completion capital, Antero has been targeting a land capital budget of approximately $75 million, resulting in a total preliminary capital budget of $1.28 billion to $1.38 billion.

The company reported total revenue of $1.3 billion for the second quarter, a 31% increase compared with $1 billion in the prior-year quarter.

Jim Magill is a reporter with S&P Global Platts. S&P Global Market Intelligence and S&P Global Platts are owned by S&P Global Inc.