Rex Energy Corporation

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State College, Pennsylvania-based Rex Energy Corporation (NASDAQ: REXX) is an oil and gas exploration and production company that has made the Marcellus shale formation a major focus of its operations. As of March, 2010 Rex's leasehold amounted to 68,700 acres in the Marcellus shale fairway.


Latest Operating Results

In a June, 2010 Rex update, the company noted that it had 7 gross, or 5.5 net wells that were drilled and awaiting completion. Four were in Butler Co., and the rest in Westmoreland Co. Rex anticipated completing 3 of the wells during the third quarter of 2010. Its JV partner, Williams, was also expected to bring in a second horizontal drilling rig during the third quarter. The partners were to drill 5 additional wells before year-end (Rex 2.5 net). The Butler Co. refrigeration plant had come back online after a shutdown in May, 2010, and construction on a cryogenic gas processing plant, also located in Butler Co., was proceeding ahead on schedule and expected to go online in November reaching full 40 Mmcf/d capacity by the end of 1Q11.

Butler County refrigeration plant shot summer '09 shortly after it became operational.Photo credit: Julia Williams, Rex Energy Corporation.
Butler County refrigeration plant shot summer '09 shortly after it became operational.
Photo credit: Julia Williams, Rex Energy Corporation.

2008 Development Timeline

3 Vertical Wells In Westmoreland Co.

Rex was reported in September, 2008 to have drilled its first Marcellus shale test well in Westmoreland County, PA. It was the one of three vertical wells in that county planned to be drilled to a depth of 9,000 feet. At that time, Rex held almost 50,000 net acres of Marcellus shale leases.

In November, 2008, the company reported that drilling had concluded on the three aforementioned vertical test wells in Westmoreland County. Two of the three had already been hydro-fractured, and the last one was to be hydro-fractured in November. Update #1: The company provided an update in December, 2008 stating that the two completed Westmoreland wells had been producing with a flowrate of 300 to 500 Mcf/d each, and that a third well there was to be complete in mid-December. Update #2: In a March 2009 update Rex announced a third well in southwest Pennsylvania with an average flow-rate of 1.4 million cu. ft./day. It could very well be the third and final test well in Westmoreland Co.

Drilling In Butler Co. With Partner

An October, 2008 report stated that Rex also had active locations in Butler County, PA. It owned a 50% interest with a partner in two wells there. Initial production on these wells was approximately 675 Mcf per day. (Partner later bought-out in 2009. See below)

Areas of Marcellus Operation

Also, in early December, 2008 it was reported that Rex had two wells in Clearfield County, Pennsylvania--one was complete, and drilling was still under way on the other. Both were to be completed by year-end 2008.

Rex also had acreage in Centre County, Pennsylvania.

An approximate breakdown of Rex's drilling rights in 2008 was:
* 29,000 acres - Clearfield and Centre Counties
* 18,000 acres - Westmoreland County
* 13,000 acres - Butler County
* 10,000 acres - All other
  70,000 acres TOTAL

At year-end 2008, Rex had seven vertical wells located in three distinct operating regions in Pennsylvania: Butler, Clearfield, and Westmoreland counties.

2009 Development Timeline

By early 2009, Rex owned drilling rights to 62,000 net acres that were prospective for Marcellus shale. Rex continued to increase its leasehold at that time.

The company had also received permission from the Susquehanna River Basin Commission to withdraw up to four million gallons per day for its Marcellus shale drilling operations.

In addition, Rex was acquiring seismic data taken from its various areas of operation across the state. The company anticipated drilling several more wells before year-end 2009. It planned to analyze core samples from these wells and conduct further testing in order to enhance its understanding of the reservoir and serve as a basis for further planning. Gathering pipelines had been established in all its areas of operation. Rex continued to lease acreage in its prime areas of operations albeit on a very selective basis.

Butler Co. Expansion

Butler Project Area - 40,800 net acres 70% Company-owned working interest (WI)Map courtesy of Rex Energy Corp.
Butler Project Area - 40,800 net acres
70% Company-owned working interest (WI)

Map courtesy of Rex Energy Corp.

In March, 2009, Rex updated that it had two wholly-owned wells in Butler County that were selling between 50 and 400 mcf/d or as much as the pipelines were able to accept in that area.

In its May, 2009 update, the company announced that it had finished drilling its first horizontal Marcellus shale well in southwest Pennsylvania located in Butler County. The company planned to hydro-fracture and complete this well in June, 2009. Rex was analyzing the core taken from it.

According to an end-of-July, 2009 company update, this first horizontal well in Butler County, after having been hydro-fractured, produced at a flow rate of 2.4 Mmcfe/d for 30 days without seeing any measurable decline in production. Update: A November, 2009 status report from Rex stated that after four months this well, named P. Knauff #1H, continued to produce at the exact same 2.4 Mmcf/d rate. It had been drilled to a depth of 5,500 feet, with lateral extension of 1,800 feet, and had gone into production in June.

P. Knauf #1H, the first horizontal well drilled in Butler County. This photo shows the well site one year after being completed and put inline.Photo credit: Julia Williams, Rex Energy Corp.
P. Knauf #1H, the first horizontal well drilled in Butler County.
This photo shows the well site one year after being completed and put inline.
Photo credit: Julia Williams, Rex Energy Corp.

The four vertical wells in Butler County had been shut in pending completion of a gas processing plant. The plant was planned to start up in August, 2009 with initial flow capacity of 5 Mmcf/d that could accommodate both the four vertical wells and the horizontal one. It was to be scaled up in stages to 25 Mmcf/d as production came online from additional horizontal wells over the next two years. Rex continued to lease additional acreage in Butler County. Williams was not involved in any of Rex's Butler County operations.

Westmoreland Co. Ramp-up

Westmoreland Project Area - 11,700 net acres 50% Company-owned WIMap courtesy of Rex Energy Corp.
Westmoreland Project Area - 11,700 net acres
50% Company-owned WI

Map courtesy of Rex Energy Corp.

Rex was in the process of gearing-up to drill a second horizontal well in Westmoreland County, PA.

Westmoreland County wells tend to be twice as deep as those in Butler County, and with increased depth comes greater pressure and thus higher production rates. For that reason, most of the horizontal wells planned for the balance of 2009 were to be in the deeper Marcellus shale of Westmoreland.

This second horizontal had been completed in July, 2009, stimulated with a seven-stage frac, and then underwent flow testing. It was expected to be producing by August, 2009. The well had been drilled to a depth of 8,200 feet with a lateral extension 2,000 feet. A third horizontal well there was also in the process of being drilled. These wells were considered to be the first ones in the drilling program with Williams. Update #1: Rex's November, 2009 status report stated that for its initial 30 days the third well in the Westmoreland County series of horizontal wells had produced at the rate of 4.2 Mmcf/d. At the time, drilling was complete on a fourth horizontal well, and underway on a fifth and sixth one. These ones were all expected to be fracture stimulated and completed by year-end 2009. Update #2: By mid-December, 2009 fracture stimulation was complete on these latter two wells, and flow testing had begun.

Westmoreland Co. Lawsuit

Also, in July, 2009, Rex was in the news when several Westmoreland landowners sued the company over alleged breach of contract regarding leases they had signed for drilling rights. One of the suits had already settled out-of-court. However, three landowners in Derry and Ligonier townships had filed a class action lawsuit against Rex in the Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court, claiming that the company had defaulted on its lease agreements with them and failed to make promised payments. The company, defended by Greensburg attorney George N. Stewart disputed these claims. The plaintiffs were represented by David A. Borkovic of Sewickley.

Drilling in Clearfield Co.

Central PA Project Area - 15,400 net acres 50% Company-owned WIMap courtesy of Rex Energy Corp.
Central PA Project Area - 15,400 net acres
50% Company-owned WI

Map courtesy of Rex Energy Corp.

The March, 2009 update mentioned Rex had completed drilling its first vertical test well in Clearfield County, PA having encountered 150 feet of Marcellus Shale formation there.

Rex's November, 2009 status report stated that it was in the process of drilling its first horizontal well in Clearfield Co.. This well was to be fracture stimulated during the fourth quarter of 2009. Update: In December, 2009 the company announced that it had completed the Alder Run #1H, its first horizontal well in Clearfield Co. It had been drilled to a depth of 8,200 feet with a 2,700 foot lateral. It had initial production (13 days) of 4.1 Mmcf/d and had been shut in pending completion of a connecting pipeline to be finished in February, 2010. Rex was in the process of drilling the Alder Run #3H well. It was to be a direct offset to the Alder Run #1H and fracture stimulated by year-end.

Joint Venture with The Willimas Companies

A report in June, 2009 found Rex teaming up with The Williams Cos. to develop roughly 44,000 acres of the former's Marcellus shale leases in Pennsylvania's Centre, Clearfield and Westmoreland counties. Williams planned to invest $33 million in the venture in exchange for a 50% share of Rex's working interest in the leases. The companies termed their agreement a "drill-to-earn" structure. Under the agreement, Williams was to be well operator and bear 90% of the drilling expense up $33 million on behalf of Rex, or $41 million of its own expenses, in order to earn a 50% share. In other words, because of the carry, Rex was only required to pay 10% of the cost to drill and complete the wells, yet it owned a 50% interest under the agreement. Willimas had up until the end of 2011 to complete its investment.

Buys Out Partner in Butler Co.

Rex also announced in June, 2009 that it had bought out its 50% partner in Butler County. This addition of 6,500 net acres brought Rex's total leasehold up to roughly 21,250 net acres in the county. This property is located in the neighborhood of Rex's four producing vertical Marcellus wells, its recently completed first horizontal well, and the gas processing plant.

Union Drilling Rig

Rex's Union drilling rig on the Shannon 1H & 2H drill pad in Butler County, PA.Photo taken at the end of June, 2010 by Julia Williams, Rex Energy Corp.
Rex's Union drilling rig on the Shannon 1H & 2H drill pad in Butler County, PA.
Photo taken at the end of June, 2010 by Julia Williams, Rex Energy Corp.

In September, 2009 Rex announced that it had hired Union Drilling Inc. to bring in a second rig in its Marcellus shale horizontal drilling program. The rig was expected to arrive on location in central Pennsylvania by the end of September. It was to be deployed drilling Rex's first horizontal well in the central part of the state (presumably Clearfield Couty). From there, it was planned to move the rig to Butler County, PA to bolster the company's 2009-2010 drilling program in that development area.

Joint Venture With Stonehenge Energy

A December, 2009 news account found Rex having formed a joint venture (JV) with Stonehenge Energy Resources. The JV was to be called Keystone Midstream Services, LLC. The purpose of the JV was to develop a cryogenic gas processing plant in Butler County, as well as to build a gathering network to flow gas from wellheads to the processing plant.

2009 Year-end Summary

In March, 2010 Rex provided an update for the fourth quarter of 2009 in which it mentioned that it had drilled and completed 7 horizontal wells that had averaged 3.1 Mmcfe/d for their first seven days of production. Rex projected that its estimated ultimate recovery (EUR) per well averaged 3.2 Bcfe.

2010 Development Timeline

A January, 2010 company update noted that Rex's leasehold had grown to 92,000 gross acres in the Marcellus shale play. By March, 2010 the company's net leasehold amounted to 68,700 Marcellus fairway acres, and the company continued to acquire new acreage. During 2010, Rex planned to field 2 rigs over its three operating areas in the Marcellus shale and drill 19 gross horizontal wells.

Butler Co. Horizontals

As of March, the company had drilled its first two horizontal wells of 2010 in Butler Co., PA. These were scheduled to be fraced in March. The company was using a vertical well to drill ahead of its horizontal rig, so at the time Rex was already drilling its third and fourth Butler Co. wells. Drilling time was under 21 days. The lateral lengths were to run 3,000 to 4,000 feet.

Update: Rex updated in November, 2010 that it had fracture stimulated the Shannon #1H well in ten stages over a 2,870 foot lateral. Microseismic data from this well appeared very promising. The well had tested at a 24-hour IP of 2.2 MMcfe/d.

A second Shannon well, the #2H, was also fractured, but operations had to be suspended until later in the year due to a casing integrity issue detected in its second stage. Remedial work was to be completed on this well and another, Voll #1H, that had a similar casing issue.

Keystone Venture On Track

The aforementioned Keystone Midstream-Butler Co. cryogenic plant was on track and scheduled to go online during the fourth quarter of 2010. The JV was still in the process of obtaining necessary state and local permits. It was now called the Sarsen plant. Update: A November, 2010 update noted that the Sarsen plant was in process of commissioning operating systems, and scheduled to start producing 20 Mmcf/d of natural gas by the middle of the month.

Westmoreland Drilling With Williams Gains Momentum

In Westmoreland Co., Rex was in the process of drilling its seventh well there. The first six wells drilled and completed were in the process of being flow tested. They had initially flowed an average of 3.3 Mmcf/d for 14 days. These wells had lateral lengths of 2,100 feet. As mentioned a seventh well was drilling, and the company planned to drill an eighth one before releasing its rig. Rex's JV partner, Williams, was to perform the fracture stimulations on these latter two wells. The company was planning to bring in a HP4S plus flex rig at the end of March. Combined, Rex and Williams planned to drill a dozen wells between them in Westmoreland Co. during 2010. These were to have lateral lengths between 3,000 and 4,000 feet.

Update: The company updated in early November, 2010 that it had recently drilled a well, Slavek Trust #3H, in Westmoreland Co. that had initial 24-hour production (IP) of 3.5 Mmcf/d. At the time of the report, the drilling rig had moved on to drill the Uschak 2 pad.

Central PA Acreage Added

Also, according to a March, 2010 update, the company had recently acquired 3,000 acres on the Centre Co. and Clinton Co. border held by production. It also had two wells shut in that were awaiting pipeline connection to Rex's tap on the Columbia 1711 line. Collectively, these two shut-in wells were expected to flow between 5 and 7 Mmcf/d once online to sales.

Joint Venture with Sumitomo Corp.

At the end of August, 2010, Rex announced that it had entered into a joint veture (JV) with a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sumitomo Corporation known as Summit Discovery Resources II, LLC. Rex was to transfer certain of its Marcellus shale assets including 12,900 net acres, producing Marcellus wells, and associated gathering infrastructure. The deal was valued at $140.4 million. Sumitomo was to pay $88.4 million cash up front with a drilling carry of $52 million. Rex was to remain drilling operator in Butler Co., PA. The drilling carry amounted to 80% of Rex's share of drilling and completion costs up to the limit of the $52 million. Various other interests including those in the Williams JV were also to be transferred, at least in part, to Sumitomo Corp. Interests in all of Rex's operating areas in the Marcellus region were involved. The transaction was to close in September, 2010.

Clearfiled Co. drilling

Rex's November, 2010 update noted that it was also drilling with Williams in Clearfield Co., PA. The joint venture had contracted for a second rig there and drilled the Alder Run #2H which was expected to be completed by year-end. They were still drilling the Alder Run #5H, and once drilling finished, the plan was to move the rig into Westmoreland Co. Alder Run #1H and 3H, part of the 2009 drilling program, had gone into production in September, 2010. Combined 24-hour peak rate on these wells had been 6.9 Mmcf/d.

Spotlight Issues

  • Rex's joint ventures and drilling carries with The Williams Companies and Sumitomo Corp., as well as its midstream venture with Stonehenge Energy, place it in very favorable capital position to continue developing its Marcellus leasehold.
  • Production coming from the 70% (before Sumitomo-100%) company-owned wells in Butler County is rich with liquids. These natural gas liquids (NGLs) are valuable it today's market of hefty price differentials between oil/NGLs and natural gas and should help contribute to Rex's bottom-line profitability.
  • Activity in Rex's central Pennsylvania operating area should ramp up further once joint venture partner, Williams, completes its gas gathering infrastructure in that area.

Executive contacts

  • Lance T. Shaner is Rex Energy's Interim President and CEO.
  • Thomas (Tom) Stabley is Executive Vice President and CFO.
  • Patrick McKinney is COO.
  • Timothy P. Beattie is Senior Vice President, Appalachian Regional Manager, and spokesman for Rex Energy regarding Keystone Midstream.
  • David E. Pratt is Vice President and Exploration Manager.
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