Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK) today announced that it has entered into an agreement to convey its interests in the Barnett Shale operating area located in North Texas to Saddle Barnett Resources, LLC (“Saddle Resources”), a company backed by First Reserve, a leading global private equity and infrastructure investment firm exclusively focused on energy, and simultaneously terminate future commitments associated with this asset.
The impacts to Chesapeake upon completion of these actions will be as follows:
- Increases Chesapeake’s operating income, before charges and other termination costs associated with this transaction, by approximately $200 to $300 million per year from 2016 through 2019
- Reduces remaining 2016 gathering, processing and transportation (GP&T) expenses by approximately $250 million, including $170 million for a projected minimum volume commitment (MVC) shortfall payment
- Provides 2017 projected GP&T expenses with a range of $7.15 to $7.65 per barrel of oil equivalent (boe), approximately $0.45 per boe lower than current 2016 guidance (using midpoints)
- Reduces projected 2017 GP&T expenses by approximately $465 million, including $230 million of projected MVC shortfall payments
- Eliminates future Barnett Shale midstream and downstream commitments of approximately $1.9 billion
- Increases the PV-10 of the company’s total proved reserves by approximately $550 million after removal of Barnett assets and the associated projected MVC shortfall payments
As part of the transaction, Chesapeake and Williams Partners (NYSE:WPZ) have agreed to terminate the current gathering agreement, projected MVC shortfall payments and fees pertaining to the Barnett Shale assets, for which Chesapeake expects to pay $334 million in cash to Williams, with First Reserve portfolio company Saddle Resources expected to pay an additional sum. The transaction is subject to a number of closing conditions, including the receipt of third-party consents, and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2016.
In addition, the company announced it has renegotiated its gas gathering agreement with Williams in its Mid-Continent operating area in exchange for a payment by the company of $66 million.
Separately, Chesapeake accelerated the value of a gas supply contract by selling its rights under a long-term gas supply agreement for $146 million in cash proceeds. Both of these transactions are discussed further below.
Chesapeake Chief Executive Officer Doug Lawler commented, “Today’s announcements mark a major step in our continued progress to transform Chesapeake. By exiting the Barnett, we expect to increase our operating income for the remainder of 2016 through 2019 between $200 and $300 million annually, eliminate approximately $1.9 billion of total future midstream and downstream commitments, and increase the PV-10 of our proved reserves. Given the significant negative cash flow profile of the Barnett assets, the net cash paid out in these transactions has a payback of less than 18 months, and it will be partially funded by the $146 million sale and assignment of our long-term gas supply contract.
“We are also releasing preliminary 2017 guidance for the items most directly impacted by these transactions, including wide initial ranges for production and capital spending, in order to highlight our flexibility around commodity prices. The transformation of Chesapeake into a top-tier E&P company continues, and these transactions, along with our previously announced balance sheet and liquidity improvements, provide significant forward progress. We believe there are more positive moves to come.”
Properties in the proposed Barnett transaction include approximately 215,000 net developed and undeveloped acres and approximately 2,800 operated wells, which produced an average of approximately 65,000 boe per day (96% natural gas, 4% natural gas liquids) in the 2016 second quarter. The expected net production impact from the proposed transaction is approximately 62,000 boe per day. Proved oil and natural gas reserves in the Barnett Shale as of December 31, 2015 were approximately 81 million boe (96% natural gas, 4% natural gas liquids).
In exchange for a cash payment of $66 million, Chesapeake also renegotiated its existing cost-of-service gas gathering agreement with Williams covering the Mid-Continent operating area to a fixed-fee arrangement. As a result, Chesapeake’s Mid-Continent gas gathering costs are expected to be reduced by 36%, effective July 1, 2016.
Lawler continued, “We believe that our approximately 1.5 million net acreage position in the Mid-Continent area represents a tremendous resource. The new gas gathering agreement makes our operations more competitive and enhances the operating income from this asset.”