WPX to divest from Marcellus Shale as profiting from gas proving more difficult

In case anyone missed this news. I "heard" that WPX has a deal in the works which will close at the end Jan. 2015. Supposedly to SW Gathering or XTO. Upon research SW Gathering is listed as a subsidiary of WPX as listed with the SEC. Along with about 25 other entities. So, perhaps it's a inside "shell game" move.
I cannot obtain clear confirmation, tho. As most know WPX communication to landowners is poor.
As we know, drilling activity is definitely down, but considering weather and nat. gas prices, that's understandable. I think gas co. basically need $4+ market pricing. Today was $2.88.
If anyone knows more or i'm incorrect please reply. I posted becos i could not find mention of this on GMS.
Good new year.

------------------ via then Times Tribune, Nov. 2014...
WPX Energy Inc. will divest from the Marcellus Shale with no plans to drill any new wells in Pennsylvania for the foreseeable future.

The Tulsa-based company spun off from Williams Companies Inc. in 2011. Its new CEO, petroleum engineer Rick Muncrief, joined the company in May and took a hard look at WPX’s assets, spokeswoman Susan Oliver said.

WPX will now focus on developing its acreage in the oil and natural gas liquids fields of Colorado, North Dakota and New Mexico, she said.

“The decision was made to divest of the Marcellus asset because we get a better return with drilling for oil and natural gas liquids than the dry gas here,” she said. Its decision came as no surprise to Lou D’Amico, president and director of the Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association.

“I think there are a number of companies that are looking at possibility of getting out of the dry gas portion of the Marcellus,” he said. “Right now with the current prices, there’s not a lot to justify additional drilling in the area.”

The Marcellus Shale holds dry gas in Northeast Pennsylvania and the more profitable wet gas region of Southwest Pennsylvania and Northwest West Virginia.

Natural gas spot prices plummeted from 2008 to 2009, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration data. Henry Hub spot prices, an industry benchmark, has hovered around $3.50 to $4.50 per thousand cubic feet for about the past five years

Companies that drill in Pennsylvania consistently sell their gas at $1.50 to $2 less than the Henry Hub price, which doesn’t make a $7 million to $10 million investment per well worthwhile, Mr. D’Amico said.

Although WPX didn’t mention the looming 5 percent severance tax proposed by Democratic Governor-elect Tom Wolf, Mr. D’Amico said many association members are eyeing the tax.

“I’m sure some of these companies are looking at a recently elected governor saying he’s going to throw in a 5 percent severance tax and are saying, ‘Enough’s enough, we’re going to go somewhere else,’” he said.

To make drilling for dry gas worth the expense, gas companies are hoping for another cold winter in the short term, said Bernard Weinstein, Ph.D., economist and associate director of the Maguire Energy Institute at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.

In the long run, gas-fueled power generation, vehicles and exports to other countries are necessary to bring prices back up to a level to encourage more gas development, Dr. Weinstein said.

“Producers would be very happy with $5 to $7 if they thought it was going to last,” he said.

WPX will continue to operate its producing wells, Ms. Oliver said. It has not identified a buyer for its Marcellus holdings.

The company reported 162 active wells in Pennsylvania in the first half of 2014, according to state production data. Most are in Susquehanna and Westmoreland counties, with a handful in Centre and Clearfield counties.

Ron Ivey, a Forest Lake Twp., Susquehanna County, resident who hosts a WPX well on his land, is hopeful for the future. About two years after it came online, his single well still produces an average of 1.4 million cubic feet per day, according to state data. The one-day output is enough to supply more than 10 homes for a year.

“Honestly, I see us getting sold,” he said, adding that WPX placed a small compressor engine on his well pad, making it more likely his gas will reach the pipeline and the market.

“It’s just sitting there and it’s already been repermitted again,” he said. “We’re just waiting.”

Contact the writer: bgibbons@timesshamrock.com, @bgibbonsTT on Twitter

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