DENVER, March 18, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- PDC Energy, Inc. ("PDC" or the "Company") (Nasdaq:PDCE) today announced an increase in the Company's capital budget and estimated net production for 2013. The Company also announced the signing of an agreement for the provision of midstream services in the Utica Shale. PDC's capital budget increased from $365 million to $443 million, 85% of which is allocated to accelerate development of liquid-rich projects in the Wattenberg Field and Utica Shale. The Wattenberg Field budget increased $26 million to $280 million to accommodate the projected start-up of a third rig in May, 2013. For the year, the Company expects to drill a total of 69 horizontal wells in the liquid-rich Niobrara and Codell formations. The Company also increased its budget for the Utica Shale from $53 million to $96 million to maintain a one-rig drilling program throughout 2013 and drill a total of 11 horizontal wells. The Utica budget includes approximately $7 million for leasehold acquisitions. The full-year drilling program was facilitated by the execution of long-term agreements with a subsidiary of MarkWest Energy Partners, LP (NYSE:MWE) ("MarkWest") to provide midstream services, including gas gathering, processing, fractionation, and marketing to support PDC's Utica operations in Guernsey County in southeast Ohio. PDC expects MarkWest to begin gathering its Guernsey County gas by the end of the second quarter of 2013 and marketing its residue gas and natural gas liquids at the tailgate of the MarkWest processing facilities. The remaining $9 million increase is related to the Company's joint venture ("PDCM") in the Marcellus Shale to reflect the startup of its 2013 horizontal drilling program in January rather than March as originally budgeted. PDCM's capital budget is expected to be funded largely by the joint venture's cash flow and borrowings under the joint venture's revolving credit facility.