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National Fuel Gas' CEO Discusses F4Q 2011 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

We’d like to remind you that today’s teleconference will contain forward-looking statements. While National Fuel’s expectations, beliefs and projections are made in good faith and are believed to have a reasonable basis, actual results may differ materially. These statements speak only as of the date on which they are made, and you may refer to last evening’s earnings release for a listing of certain specific risk factors.

With that, we'll begin with Dave Smith.

David F. Smith

Thank you, Tim, and good morning to everyone. The fourth quarter kept an outstanding year for National Fuel. Recurring earnings for the quarter were up $0.06 per share or 15% over the prior year’s fourth quarter. Seneca had another strong quarter, posting a 3.8 Bcfe or 29% quarter-over-quarter increase in production, which in turns over $0.04 per share increase in E&P results.

Earnings in the regulated segments were up $0.02 per share for the quarter, thanks in large part to a great job by our employees in controlling costs and driving operational efficiencies across our regulated business units.

In the field, we had a good quarter, as we continue to execute on our plans for growth in Appalachia and Western Pennsylvania. Seneca continues to build momentum particularly in the Marcellus. During the quarter, Seneca had five rigs operating, which combined to spud another 23 horizontal wells, while EOG initiated an additional 13 horizontal wells.

Our daily production rate from the Marcellus at the end of fiscal 2011 was nearly triple from last year’s rate. In addition, even after the sale of our offshore Gulf of Mexico properties, Seneca’s proved reserves at September 30 increased by 34% to 935 Bcfe. Simply put, overall, we are very pleased with the results we’ve achieved in the Marcellus.

Turing to the regulated businesses, the pipeline and storage segment saw a reduction of its transportation revenues due primarily to the persistently strong pricing basis at Niagara, which make selling input capacity from Canada difficult. As you know, this was not a surprise, it was consistent with our expectations and consistent with our forecast. Fortunately, but also consistent with our expectations, net revenue erosion stabilized and moving forward, pipeline and storage revenues will increase significantly.

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