|6 Months Ended|
Jun. 30, 2019
In March 2011, we received orders for compliance from federal regulatory agencies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, relating to certain of our activities in West Virginia. The orders allege that certain of our operations at several well sites are in non-compliance with certain environmental regulations, such as unpermitted discharges of fill material into wetlands or waters of the United States that are potentially in violation of the Clean Water Act. Antero voluntarily reviewed all of its pre-2011 construction sites and entered into an agreement to restore or mitigate all areas of concern. The vast majority of the sites cited by regulators were among the sites we voluntarily reviewed. On January 31, 2019, we entered into a consent decree with state and federal regulators to settle for $3.15 million and perform restoration at these sites along with mitigation at an approved mitigation site. The settlement was filed in federal court in West Virginia on February 11, 2019, entered and approved by the court on May 22, 2019, and paid in June 2019. Our operations at these locations 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 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 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 facilities for the purpose of determining if the additional facilities have the same alleged compliance issues that were identified during the September 2017 inspections. Since receipt of the NOV and information request, we have met with the EPA to discuss the alleged compliance issues but do not yet have any indication with respect to whether, and to what extent, the NOV and information request will result in monetary sanctions; 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.
The Company is the plaintiff in two lawsuits against South Jersey Gas Company and South Jersey Resources Group, LLC (collectively, “SJGC”) pending in United States District Court in Colorado. In March 2015, the Company filed suit against SJGC seeking relief for breach of contract and damages in the amounts that SJGC had short paid, and continued to short pay, the Company in connection with two nearly identical long term gas contracts. Under those contracts, SJGC are long term purchasers of 80,000 MMBtu/day of the Company’s natural gas production. Deliveries under the contracts began in October 2011 and the term of the contracts continues through October 2019. The price for gas was based on specified indices in the contracts. Beginning in October 2014, SJGC began short paying the Company based on price indices unilaterally selected by SJGC and not the applicable index
specified in the contracts. SJGC claimed that the index price specified in the contracts, and the index at which SJGC paid for deliveries from 2011 through September 2014, was no longer appropriate under the contracts because a market disruption event (as defined by the contract) had occurred and, as a result, a new index price was required to be determined by the parties. The Company rejected SJGC’s contention that a market disruption event occurred. SJGC’s actions constituted a breach of the contracts by failing to pay the Company based on the express price terms of the contracts and paying the Company based on unilaterally selected price indices in violation of the contracts’ remedial provisions. On May 8, 2017, a jury in the United States District Court in Colorado returned a unanimous verdict finding in favor of Antero’s positions in the lawsuit against SJGC. On July 21, 2017, final judgment on the jury’s unanimous verdict was entered by the court. On August 18, 2017, SJGC filed post-judgment motions with the court. On March 23, 2018, the court denied SJGC’s post-judgment motions. On April 20, 2018, SJGC appealed the final judgment to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit and the appeal remains pending.
Subsequent to the entry of judgment, SJGC continued to short pay the Company on the basis of unilaterally selected price indices and not the index specified in the contract. Accordingly, on December 21, 2017, Antero filed suit against SJGC to recover for its damages since March of 2017. The second lawsuit remains pending.
Through June 30, 2019, the Company estimates that it is owed approximately $88 million (gross damages, including interest) more than SJGC has paid using the indices unilaterally selected by them. Substantially all of this amount has not been accrued in the Company’s financial statements. The Company will vigorously seek recovery from SJGC of all underpayments and damages, including interest, based on the contracted price.
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 point in Braxton, 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 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 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. Through June 30, 2019, these damages amounted to approximately $109 million (gross damages, including interest). This amount has not been accrued in the Company’s financial statements. 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’s 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.
On June 20, 2019, the Company was awarded a jury verdict of approximately $95.9 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. WGL has the right to appeal 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 delivery point in Braxton, West Virginia 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