CNX, Range officials upbeat on energy at DUG Conference

Rick Shrum
Observer Reporter

Executives from two natural gas drilling companies based at Southpointe energized the first full day of an energy conference.

Tim Dugan of CNX Resources Corp. and Dennis Degner of Range Resources were among the speakers Tuesday morning at the 10th annual DUG East Conference and Exhibition at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. They helped to kick off the event, which featured a series of panel discussions, talks and question-and-answer sessions related to natural gas matters – and drew a large number of industry officials from across the country. Houston, Texas-based Hart Energy organized the conference.

Dugan, executive vice president and chief operating officer with CNX, explained that his 154-year-old company spun off its “legacy coal business” in November, and is using those 154 years of experience as “a competitive advantage” in the natural gas field. The company, he said, is using data analytics – drawing from the knowledge gained during that century and a half – “to give us informative economic decisions.”

He displayed a map of the tri-state, designating where CNX has acreage, adding “we have developed less than 6 percent of our acreage.” Dugan is excited by the opportunities that may be available in the Appalachian Basin.

“The Appalachian,” he said, “has the potential to be more productive than any basin in the United States, maybe any basin in the world. The future is bright and CNX is proud to be part of it.”

He also talked about the three-year agreement CNX and Evolution Well Services, of Texas, forged recently that will enable CNX to use one of Evolution’s 100 percent electric, natural gas-fueled, gas turbine-powered fracturing fleets.

This is the first long-term agreement for a fleet of this type in the Appalachian Basin. CNX said Evolution’s 56,000-hydraulic horsepower equipment can save operators up to 95 percent on fuel costs, while operating below the Environmental Protection Agency’s Tier 4 emission standards.

Dugan said CNX has three fracking crews running, “and with the Evolution crew, we expect to do more feet (of natural gas) per day than what the current crews do.”

Degner, senior vice president for operations at Range, had a breezy Q-and-A with Steve Toon, editor-in-chief of Oil and Gas Investor.

The two focused initially on lengthy laterals, a horizontal drilling application to which Range is becoming accustomed – along with a few other companies. Range drilled an extended lateral of 18,000 feet – a little less than 2 1/2 miles.

“Our drilling team was doing 6,000 of 7,000 feet a few years ago,” Degner said. “We had the longest – 17,800 feet – then another operator went 18,100 a week later.

“It’s a lower dollar per foot operating an extended lateral, but being repeatable is the key to success with this,” Degner said. Asked whether a lateral could stretch to 20,000 feet or more, he said, “We don’t know yet. But we haven’t seen anything that is a cause for alarm.”

One of Range’s primary goals, he said, “We want to maximize our ability to access this mineral while minimizing our footprint.”

The conference will continue Friday with registration beginning at 7:30 a.m. DUG East will wrap up shortly after noon.