Southwestern Energy Management Discusses Q2 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Southwestern Energy (SWN)

Q2 2012 Earnings Call

August 03, 2012 10:00 am ET

Executives

Steven L. Mueller - Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

William J. Way - Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President

Gregory D. Kerley - Chief Financial Officer, Executive Vice President and Director

Analysts

Scott Hanold - RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division

David W. Kistler - Simmons & Company International, Research Division

David Snow

Brian Lively - Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. Securities, Inc., Research Division

Hsulin Peng - Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated, Research Division

Marshall H. Carver - Capital One Southcoast, Inc., Research Division

Brian Singer - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

Charles A. Meade - Johnson Rice & Company, L.L.C., Research Division

Amir Arif - Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., Inc., Research Division

Kevin Kaiser

Michael Kelly - Global Hunter Securities, LLC, Research Division

Presentation

Operator

Greetings, and welcome to the Southwestern Energy's Second Quarter 2012 Earnings Teleconference Call. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, this conference is being recorded. It is now my pleasure to introduce your host, Steve Mueller, President and CEO of Southwestern Energy. Thank you. Mr. Mueller, you may now begin.

Steven L. Mueller

Thank you. Good morning, and thank you all for joining us. With me today are Bill Way, our Chief Operating Officer; Greg Kerley, our Chief Financial Officer; Jeff Sherrick, Senior VP of Corporate Development; and Brad Sylvester, our VP of Investor Relations. If you've not received a copy of yesterday's press release regarding our second quarter results, you can find a copy on our website, www.swn.com.

Also, I'd like to point out that many of the comments during this teleconference are forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties affecting outcomes, many of which are beyond our control and are discussed in more detail in the risk factors and the forward-looking statement section of our annual and quarterly filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Although we believe that expectations expressed are based on reasonable assumptions, they are not guarantees of future performance, and actual results or developments may differ materially.

Now let's begin. Bill and Greg will talk about SWN second quarter performance and will compare several important numbers. I want to take just 1 minute and talk about the one number that was foremost in our minds during the quarter. The average second quarter NYMEX price of $2.22 per Mcf. That is 26% reduction from the year end 2011 price. The swift and rapid decrease in gas price has caused the 49% year-over-year decrease in total industry rigs drilling for gas in United States. SWN has also rapidly adjusting to the price changes, but rather than retrenching like the rig count, our emphasis on Value+ allowed us to continue our strong progress in every investment area in the second quarter. As we mentioned last quarter, investing in the best wells in the Fayetteville Shale has increased the initial rates and more importantly, the quality of the completed wells.

In addition, we continue to decrease days to drill below our recent year end 2011 estimates. The Marcellus production is ramping up and we're encouraged by what we're seeing in our New Ventures projects. Record production, faster times and lower costs are products of the culture of this focus on Value+.

I will now turn the call over to Bill for more details on the results of that focus in the second quarter.

William J. Way

Thank you, Steve. Good morning, everyone. In the Fayetteville Shale, we placed 131 operated wells on production in the second quarter resulting in net production of 121 Bcf, which is up from 116 Bcf in the first quarter and 107 Bcf a year ago, which was a new quarterly record for us. Our operated horizontal wells had an average initial production rate of 3.5 million cubic feet of gas per day, up from 3.3 million cubic feet of gas per day in the first quarter, an average completed well cost of $2.8 million per well and an average drilling time of 6.9 days during the quarter, which is the fastest quarterly drill time in the history of the play. We also placed 30 wells on production during the quarter that were drilled in 5 days or less.

As you may recall, we've optimized our portfolio in the Fayetteville and are targeting the highest return wells in the field. Going forward, we expect to see our average production on a per well basis improve over the next few quarters.

On the Midstream side, our gas gathering business in the Fayetteville Shale continues its strong performance, and at June 30, was gathering approximately 2.1 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day through 1,829 miles of gathering lines compared to gathering approximately 2 billion cubic feet a day a year ago. Lately, our production in the Fayetteville has been affected by recent extremely high temperatures in Central Arkansas, and year-to-date, we estimate that production from the field has been impacted by 0.5 to 1 Bcf due to the extreme heat. However, since June 30, our gross production rate has returned to approximately 2 Bcf per day. However, we are still managing the impact of extreme heat on our compressors and dehydration facilities.

In the Marcellus Shale, in Bradford and Susquehanna Counties in Pennsylvania, we had 41 operated Marcellus wells on production at the end of the quarter, resulting in net production of 9.9 Bcf, which is up from the 5.1 Bcf in the same quarter in 2011. Gross operated production was approximately 166 million cubic feet per day of gas as of June 30. Since that time, our gross production rate from the area has surpassed 200 million cubic feet a day out of the area.

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