National Fuel Provides Fiscal Fourth Quarter Update For Exploration & Production Operations

Seneca Resources Corporation (“Seneca”), the wholly owned exploration and production subsidiary of National Fuel Gas Company (NYSE:NFG) (“National Fuel” or the “Company”) reports that production volumes for the fiscal year’s fourth quarter ended September 30, 2013, totaled 33.2 billion cubic feet equivalent (“Bcfe”), a 35% increase over the prior year’s fourth quarter. Total production for fiscal year 2013 was 120.7 Bcfe, which was a 45% increase over fiscal year 2012. Additionally, Seneca’s proved natural gas and crude oil reserves as of September 30, 2013, increased 24% to a record high of 1,549 Bcfe.

Production Update

Seneca’s total production of 33.2 Bcfe, or 361 million cubic feet equivalent (“MMcfe”) per day, was driven by the continued success of Seneca’s Marcellus Shale development program in Lycoming County, Pa. Natural gas production increased 42%, to a total of 28.9 Bcf, despite nearly 3 Bcf of price-related curtailments. Crude oil production totaled 717,000 barrels, which was an increase of 1.6% from the prior year’s fourth quarter. Growth in crude oil production was limited primarily as a result of a continued constraint in a third-party pipeline used to transport associated natural gas production within the Sespe Field. This is expected to be resolved by the end of January 2014.

Reserves Update (Preliminary)

During fiscal year 2013, Seneca replaced 351% of production to reach a total of 1,549 Bcfe of proved reserves as of September 30, 2013. Seneca’s success through the drill bit in the Marcellus Shale led to a 311 Bcf, or 31%, increase in natural gas reserves, which totaled 1,300 Bcf at fiscal year end. Crude oil reserves, which decreased by 3% largely due to production, totaled 41.6 million barrels at September 30, 2013.

Of the total reserves, 71% were classified as proved developed reserves. This is an increase from 67% proved developed reserves as of September 30, 2012. Proved undeveloped (“PUD”) reserves totaled 29% of the total reserves at the end of the fiscal year.

Finding and development costs are expected to be approximately $1.31 per Mcfe for fiscal 2013. Seneca’s three-year average finding and development costs are expected to be $1.67 per Mcfe, which is down from the $1.87 three-year average in fiscal 2012.

Guidance Update

As a result of continued better than projected performance of its Marcellus Shale assets, the Company is increasing its fiscal 2014 production guidance to a range of 145 to 165 Bcfe, or a 20% to 37% increase over fiscal 2013. The previous guidance range was 134 to 146 Bcfe. This increase is primarily a result of decreased spud to sales timing in Lycoming and Tioga counties within Seneca’s Eastern Development Area (“EDA”), increased EUR assumptions, and a base of producing properties projected to decline at a slower rate in part due to the start-up of compression within its DCNR Tract 100 acreage in Lycoming County, Pa.

Operations Update

Seneca’s delineation efforts in the Western Development Area (“WDA”) are ongoing. During the fourth quarter of fiscal 2013, Seneca tested two additional wells in its Owl’s Nest area of Elk County. Both of these wells utilized a reduced cluster spacing (“RCS”) completion design and achieved 24-hour peak production rates of 6.1 and 3.4 MMcfe per day. The second well was completed using linear gel to place larger proppant near the wellbore. Seneca believes longer laterals and standard RCS completion design are more representative of expectations for this area. Both wells are currently shut-in awaiting the completion of production infrastructure. Below is a summary of the delineation wells completed in the WDA during fiscal 2013.
                           
Prospect Area    

County(Pa.)
   

Stages
   

TreatableLateralLength
   

ReducedClusterSpacing
   

24-HourPeakProduction(MMcfe)
   

Peak 7-dayAverage(MMcfe)
    Status
Rich Valley Cameron 42 6,372’ Yes 8.1 7.8 Producing
Clermont (9H) Elk 37 5,500’ Yes 11.4 10.0 Producing
Clermont (10H) Elk 23 5,565’ No 8.1 7.3 Producing
Ridgway Elk 37 5,537’ Yes 7.1 6.4 Tested
Church Run Elk 29 4,435’ Yes 4.8 4.5 Tested
Owl’s Nest (54H) Elk 41 6,139’ Yes 6.1 5.8 Tested
Owl’s Nest (59H) Elk 36 5,370’ Yes(Gel Frac) 3.4 3.1 Tested
Tionesta Forest 35 5,100’ Yes Completed
 

On DCNR Tract 100 in Lycoming County, Pa., Seneca brought a new five-well pad on line during the quarter. These wells achieved 24-hour peak production rates ranging from 14.8 to 22.1 MMcf per day. Over its first 30 days, this five-well pad produced 2.3 Bcf of natural gas.

In the Utica Shale, Seneca tested a dry gas well at its Mt. Jewett prospect area in McKean County. This well had a treatable lateral length of 5,777’ and was completed using 38 RCS stages. The 24-hour peak production rate was 8.5 MMcf per day and the well averaged 6.8 MMcf per day over a seven-day period.

Ronald J. Tanski, President and Chief Executive Officer of National Fuel, stated, “The fourth quarter capped off an outstanding year for Seneca. We achieved tremendous growth in both production and proved reserves, and our delineation program in the Western Development Area of the Marcellus Shale demonstrates the vast potential of our acreage position. As we move into fiscal 2014, Seneca and our midstream businesses will be executing a coordinated plan to develop our resources and install the infrastructure needed to bring our production to market.”

Additional information on the Company’s operations and financial results will be discussed during the 4 th Quarter Fiscal 2013 Teleconference, which is scheduled for Friday, November 8, 2013, at 11 a.m. ET.

National Fuel is an integrated energy company with $6.3 billion in assets comprised of the following four operating segments: Exploration and Production, Pipeline and Storage, Utility, and Energy Marketing. Additional information about National Fuel is available at www.nationalfuelgas.com.

Certain statements contained herein, including statements identified by the use of the words “anticipates,” “estimates,” “expects,” “forecasts,” “intends,” “plans,” “predicts,” “projects,” “believes,” “seeks,” “will,” “may” and similar expressions, and statements which are other than statements of historical facts, are “forward-looking statements” as defined by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties, which could cause actual results or outcomes to differ materially from those expressed in the forward-looking statements. The Company’s expectations, beliefs and projections contained herein are expressed in good faith and are believed to have a reasonable basis, but there can be no assurance that such expectations, beliefs or projections will result or be achieved or accomplished. In addition to other factors, the following are important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those discussed in the forward-looking statements: factors affecting the Company’s ability to successfully identify, drill for and produce economically viable natural gas and oil reserves, including among others geology, lease availability, title disputes, weather conditions, shortages, delays or unavailability of equipment and services required in drilling operations, insufficient gathering, processing and transportation capacity, the need to obtain governmental approvals and permits, and compliance with environmental laws and regulations; changes in laws, regulations or judicial interpretations to which the Company is subject, including those involving taxes, safety, climate change, other environmental matters, real property, and exploration and production activities such as hydraulic fracturing; changes in the price of natural gas or oil; impairments under the SEC’s full cost ceiling test for natural gas and oil reserves; uncertainty of oil and gas reserve estimates; significant differences between the Company’s projected and actual production levels for natural gas or oil; governmental/regulatory actions, initiatives and proceedings; delays or changes in costs or plans with respect to Company projects or related projects of other companies, including difficulties or delays in obtaining necessary governmental approvals, permits or orders or in obtaining the cooperation of interconnecting facility operators; financial and economic conditions, including the availability of credit, and occurrences affecting the Company’s ability to obtain financing on acceptable terms for working capital, capital expenditures and other investments, including any downgrades in the Company’s credit ratings and changes in interest rates and other capital market conditions; changes in economic conditions, including global, national or regional recessions, and their effect on the demand for, and customers’ ability to pay for, the Company’s products and services; the performance of the Company’s key suppliers counterparties; or economic disruptions or uninsured losses resulting from major accidents, fires, severe weather, natural disasters, terrorist activities, acts of war or cyber attacks. The Company disclaims any obligation to update any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date thereof.

Copyright Business Wire 2010