Belmont County drilling primed for big year

BARNESVILLE — As the company prepares to drill on acreage in the village of Barnesville, Denver-based Antero Resources plans a big year in 2013 for both Marcellus and Utica shale exploration.

The $5,700 per acre and 20 percent of production royalties agreement that many private mineral owners signed is the same one Barnesville leaders inked with Antero last year.

Paul M. Rady, chairman and chief executive officer of Antero, said the company added 84,000 acres of Marcellus Shale leasehold during 2012, with another 73,000 acres in the Utica Shale. Virtually all of this land is located in the wet zone, which means the gas stream contains methane, propane, butane and ethane — and possibly crude oil.

“Our 93 percent net production growth in the Marcellus in 2012 illustrates the execution capability of our team as well as the growth potential of this play. The combination of growing liquids production, a large long-term natural gas hedge position and low finding and development costs should lead to sustainable, profitable growth for Antero for years to come,” said Antero President and Chief Financial Officer Glen Warren.

Of the company’s $1.65 billion projected budget for 2013, Antero plans to use $1.15 billion specifically for drilling and fracking; $350 million for building gathering pipelines; and $150 million to acquire new leases. Antero’s net production in West Virginia and Ohio is expected to increase by as much as 138 percent in 2013.

Belmont County records show Antero already has more than 800 separate lease agreements there with intention to drill. The driller also has active operations in Noble and Monroe counties, reaching a depth of 8,132 feet at one Monroe County well, according to Ohio Department of Natural Resources records.

Ultimately, Antero plans to operate an average of 12 drilling rigs in the Marcellus and two rigs in the Utica this year. These 14 rigs will be supplemented by four shallow rigs that will drill the vertical section of some horizontal wells down to the point at which the wells will turn horizontally, about 6,000 feet under the ground.

Currently, in the Utica Shale, Antero is operating two drilling rigs in the wet gas zone. Antero has an agreement with MarkWest Energy to process and fractionate its gas at plants in Noble County and in Harrison County near Cadiz. Antero is in the process of laying both low and high pressure gathering pipeline to transport its initial Utica production to connect with the MarkWest high pressure lateral to the Cadiz processing complex.

In the Marcellus Shale, Antero is now operating 13 drilling rigs throughout northern West Virginia. The company has 31 horizontal wells undergoing the fracking process or waiting to be fracked. There are three “fully-dedicated frack crews currently working in West Virginia, along with several spot frack crews as needed,” the company states.