|12 Months Ended|
Dec. 31, 2019
In June 2018, following site inspections conducted in September 2017 at certain of our facilities located in Doddridge County, Tyler County, and Ritchie County, West Virginia, we received a Notice of Violation (“NOV”) from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) Region III for alleged violations of the federal Clean Air Act and the West Virginia State Implementation Plan relating to permitting and control requirements for emissions of regulated pollutants at several of our natural gas production facilities. The NOV alleges that combustion devices at these facilities did not meet applicable air permitting requirements. Separately, in June 2018, we received an information request from EPA Region III pursuant to Section 114(a) of the Clean Air Act relating to the facilities that were inspected in September 2017 as well as additional Antero Resources facilities for the purpose of determining if the additional facilities have the same alleged compliance issues that were identified during the September 2017 inspections. We have separately received an NOV from West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (“WVDEP”) alleging violations relating to the same issues being investigated by the EPA. We continue to negotiate with EPA and WVDEP to resolve the issues alleged in the NOVs and the information request; however, we believe that there is a reasonable possibility that these actions may result in monetary sanctions exceeding $100,000. Our operations at these facilities are not suspended, and management does not expect these matters to have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations, or cash flows.
In March 2015 and December 2017, the Company filed lawsuits against South Jersey Gas Company and South Jersey Resources Group, LLC (collectively, “SJGC”) in United States District Court in Colorado seeking relief for breach of contracts and damages for amounts that SJGC short paid the Company. The contractual price for gas was based on specified indices in the contracts and SJGC began short paying the Company based on price indices unilaterally selected by SJGC and not the applicable index
specified in the contracts. On May 8, 2017, a jury in the United States District Court in Colorado returned a unanimous verdict finding in favor of Antero Resources’ positions in the initial lawsuit against SJGC and the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the trial court. SJGC declined further appeal and stipulated to the liability in the second suit. During the year ended December 31, 2019, the Company and our royalty owners received a gross settlement of $82 million from SJGC, which was in full satisfaction and discharge of judgments entered in favor of the Company in the above described lawsuits.
The Company and Washington Gas Light Company and WGL Midstream, Inc. (collectively, “WGL”) were involved in a pricing dispute involving firm gas sales contracts executed June 20, 2014 (the “Contracts”) that the Company began delivering gas under in January 2016. From January 2016 through July 2017 and from December 2017 through January 2018, the aggregate daily gas volumes contracted for under the Contracts was 500,000 MMBtu/day, with the aggregate daily contracted volumes having increased to 600,000 MMBtu/day from August through November 2017. The Company invoiced WGL based on the natural gas index price specified in the Contracts and WGL paid the Company based on that invoice price. However, WGL asserted that the index price was no longer appropriate under the Contracts and claimed that an undefined alternative index was more appropriate for the delivery point of the gas. In July 2016, the matter was referred to arbitration by the Colorado district court. In January 2017, the arbitration panel ruled in the Company’s favor. As a result, the index price has remained as specified in the Contracts and there will be no adjustments to the invoices that have been paid by WGL, nor will future invoices to WGL be adjusted based on the same claim rejected by the arbitration panel. The arbitration panel’s award was confirmed by the Colorado district court on April 14, 2017.
In March of 2017, WGL filed a second legal proceeding against the Company in Colorado district court alleging breach of contract and seeking damages of more than $30 million. In this lawsuit, WGL claimed that the Company breached its contractual obligations under the Contracts by failing to deliver “TCO pool” gas. In subsequent filings, WGL explained that its claims were based on an alleged obligation that the Company must deliver gas to the Columbia IPP Pool (“IPP Pool”). WGL asserted this exact same issue in the arbitration and it was rejected by the arbitration panel. The arbitration panel specifically found that the Delivery Point under the Contracts was at a specific geographic point in Braxton County, West Virginia, not the IPP Pool. On August 24, 2017, the Colorado district court dismissed with prejudice WGL’s claims against the Company in its new lawsuit and found that the Company had not breached its Contracts with WGL by allegedly failing to deliver to the IPP Pool. The Court dismissed WGL’s lawsuit because WGL had not adequately pled a claim against Antero Resources for the alleged failure to deliver “TCO pool” gas under the Contracts. WGL has appealed this decision to the Colorado Court of Appeals and on October 11, 2018 the Colorado Court of Appeals reversed the Colorado district court’s decision finding that WGL had adequately pled a claim for relief and remanded the case back to the district court for further proceedings.
The Company is also actively engaged in pursuing cover damages against WGL based on WGL’s failure to take receipt of all of the agreed quantities of gas required under the Contracts. WGL’s failure to take the gas volumes specified in the Contracts is directly related to WGL’s lack of primary firm transportation rights at the Delivery Point. The failures by WGL to take the full contracted volumes of gas began in April 2017 and continued each month through December 2017 in varying quantities. In defense of its conduct, WGL asserted to the Company that their failure to receive gas is excused by (1) the Company’s failure to deliver gas to the IPP Pool or (2) alleged instances of Force Majeure under the Contracts. However, as stated above, the alleged obligation that the Company must deliver gas to the IPP Pool was already rejected by the arbitration panel. Further, the Contracts expressly prohibit a Force Majeure claim in circumstances in which the gas purchaser does not have primary firm transportation agreements in place to transport the purchased gas. In each instance that WGL failed to receive the quantity of gas required under the Contracts, the Company resold the quantities not taken and invoiced WGL for cover damages pursuant to the terms of the Contracts. WGL refused to pay for the invoiced cover damages as required by the Contracts and also short paid the Company for, among other things, certain amounts of gas received by WGL. The Company filed a lawsuit against WGL in Colorado district court on October 24, 2017 to recover its cover damages, other unpaid amounts, and interest. WGL’s claims have been consolidated with Antero Resources’ claims in the same district court and trial began on June 10, 2019. WGL quantified its damages claim for the alleged failure to deliver TCO Pool gas and sought approximately $40 million from Antero Resources.
On June 20, 2019, the Company was awarded a jury verdict of approximately $96 million in damages after the jury found that WGL breached the Contracts with the Company. In addition, the jury rejected WGL’s claim against the Company, finding that the Company did not breach the Contracts by allegedly failing to deliver TCO Pool gas and awarding no damages in favor of WGL. On August 16, 2019, WGL filed a notice of appeal of the judgment.
Effective February 1, 2018, as a result of a recent amendment to its firm gas sales contract with WGL Midstream, Inc. that was executed on December 28, 2017, the total aggregate volumes to be delivered to WGL at the Braxton delivery point were reduced from 500,000 MMBtu/day to 200,000 MMBtu/day and in November 2018, the total aggregate contract volumes to be delivered to WGL at a delivery point in Loudoun County, Virginia increased by 330,000 MMBtu/day. This increase of 330,000 MMBtu/day is in effect for the remaining term of our gas sale contract with WGL Midstream, which expires in 2038, and these increased volumes are subject to NYMEX-based pricing. Following this increase, the aggregate contract volumes delivered to WGL total 530,000 MMBtu/day.
The Company is party to various other legal proceedings and claims in the ordinary course of its business. The Company believes that certain of these matters will be covered by insurance and that the outcome of other matters will not have a material adverse effect on the Company’s consolidated financial position, results of operations, or cash flows.
The entire disclosure for commitments and contingencies.
Reference 1: http://fasb.org/us-gaap/role/ref/legacyRef