EQT's CEO talks about reprioritizing the company's assets

The price of natural gas is likely to remain close to current levels for a long time and probably will never hit the spikes of 2008 again, David Porges, CEO of Pittsburgh-based EQT Corp. said today after the company's annual shareholder meeting Downtown.

And that's fine for EQT, he said. The company is developing its Marcellus Shale acreage profitably while reprioritizing some of its other assets, though that hasn't been easy in the current market.

Mr. Porges said EQT has tried several times over the past few years to sell its Virginia coalbed methane assets but no cash buyer has emerged.

With its Huron shale assets in Kentucky — where EQT just resumed drilling after a two-year hiatus due to low natural gas prices — a cash sale isn't going to be the best option, Mr. Porges said.

The way the company is thinking about the Huron today is the same way it was looking at its midstream infrastructure two years ago before it ultimately decided to spin out EQT Midstream Partners as a master limited partnership. The new company raised $262 million during an initial public offering in June 2012.

Back then, EQT felt that it wanted to spent its capital on growing the exploration and production business — not on midstream infrastructure.

Today, it feels similarly about non-Marcellus holdings.

Mr. Porges said that while the company isn't as familiar with private equity investments as some others in the oil and gas field, that is a growing avenue of funding for the industry and one that would be worth exploring.

"There's a lot of private money out there," he said.

EQT also holds positions in the dry and wet Utica Shale areas in Ohio.

Last week, the company said it was disappointed with the results of several wells drilled in Guernsey County where the gas is rich with natural gas liquids. It has suspended the drilling program there until after this year.

As for its dry acreage in eastern Ohio and West Virginia, EQT is following the announcements of other companies drilling there, Mr. Porges said, instead of drilling itself.

"We'd like to not have to pay full tuition for every lesson we learn," he said.

"Eventually, we'll end up doing something with that acreage."

Last week, EQT reported net income of $192.2 million, or $1.26 per share, for the first three months of 2014. Last year during the same period, the oil and gas producer had a profit of $100.3 million, or 66 cents per share.

Anya Litvak: alitvak@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1455

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