Antero says new funding doesn’t change plans for local drilling |

Antero says new funding doesn’t change plans for local drilling

Dennis WebbGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

A $1 billion infusion of new financing shouldn’t have any immediate impact on Antero Resources’ natural gas drilling program between Rifle and Silt, a company official said Tuesday.”We have a pretty aggressive program going already. This extra funding doesn’t really impact that per se,” said Kevin Kilstrom, Antero’s vice president of production.Denver-based Antero announced earlier this month that it has obtained $1 billion in private equity financing from Warburg Pincus, Lehman Brothers Merchant Banking Group, Yorktown Energy Partners VII LP, and Antero’s own management team.Antero is focusing its energy development efforts in Oklahoma and in the Rifle-Silt area, which is part of the gas-rich geological region known as the Piceance Basin.”We are looking at other areas as well,” Kilstrom said. “Piceance is not the only thing that is going to be a candidate for access to those funds.”Antero is operating four drilling rigs now in the Rifle-Silt area.”On our existing leases, we’re pretty comfortable with the speed of development,” Kilstrom said.However, he said the new funding might enable Antero to look seriously at any opportunities that arise for acquiring leases from other companies operating in the area.The funding also gives Antero more ability to change its current drilling operations as it gets new information or market conditions change, Kilstrom said.Antero drew attention with its entry into the local energy development picture because it is targeting a more populated area on the northern fringe of the Piceance Basin – an area where many residents had assumed drilling would not be productive. The company then worked with residents on a voluntary, first-of-its-kind community development plan that helps govern drilling practices to reduce impacts and ease concerns.Antero’s point person on creating that plan recently left the company. Terry Dobkins, who previously held Kilstrom’s position, said this week that he resigned about six weeks ago to start his own company, Denver-based Rimrock Energy, with $250 million in financing.Dobkins said his company would be focusing on other areas in the short term and look into becoming involved in the Piceance Basin later.He said he enjoyed working with area residents on the community development plan.”I have a very high regard for the people there and the work we did. I’m sure Antero will continue that history of working with the people,” he said.Kilstrom said that as Dobkins’ successor, he will be ensuring that Antero abides by the commitments it made in the community development plan.”That’s my responsibility, that’s Antero’s responsibility at the end of the day,” he said.Liz Lippitt, one of the residents who developed the plan, said Dobkins played a key role in working with residents.”We contacted him and I think he saw from the very beginning that it could be a beneficial win-win for both Antero and the community. I really was sad to see him leave,” she said.Lippitt said the board of residents responsible for overseeing implementation of the plan hasn’t been very active since last year. One reason, she said, is that there’s less sense of urgency. Residents once thought that drilling on Silt Mesa was imminent, but more recently they’ve gotten indications from Antero and other companies that it doesn’t look as if the area would be economical to develop, at least for now, Lippitt said.Robert Mueller, Antero’s vice president for geology, said Antero has had more drilling success south of the Colorado River and has been focusing its efforts there. But he said the company continues to plan to drill north of Highway 6, perhaps at first by drilling directionally from a well pad south of the road.Kilstrom said decisions about where Antero drills next can depend on constantly changing conditions such as the going price for natural gas, and on considerations such as when leases are set to expire.Contact Dennis Webb: 384-9119dwebb@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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