Rice Energy Plans Midstream Master-Limited Partnership

Rice Energy Inc., the Appalachian natural gas producer that went public in January, intends to form a master-limited partnership to help finance its expanding pipeline network.

Rice would control the partnership that would initially own gas gathering and water-distribution lines in Pennsylvania used for hydraulic fracturing, the company said today in a statement. It expects to offer stakes in the first half of 2015.

Master-limited partnerships in energy production and transportation have gained favor with investors seeking cash payouts because they don’t pay federal income tax, leaving more money for distributions. Rice’s partnership will own gas transport capacity of 3 billion cubic feet per day and water distribution capacity of 5 million gallons a day by mid 2015, according to slides posted today on the Canonsburg, Pennsylvania-based company’s website.

Midstream assets in Ohio may be sold to the MLP at a later date, according to the slides.

Rice reported a second quarter net loss of $7.9 million, or 6 cents a share, compared with profit of $19.6 million, or 24 cents, a year earlier. Profit was 3 cents a share excluding quarterly adjustments, below the 4.6-cent the average of 19 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Production rose 84 percent from the year-earlier quarter to the equivalent of 241 million cubic feet of gas per day.

The announcement was made before regular trading began on U.S. markets. Rice rose 2.8 percent Aug. 8. The shares have gained 27 percent since trading began in January.

(Rice will hold an investor call at 10 a.m. New York time today, accessible at http://www.ricenergy.com.)

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