Rice Energy Inc. (RICE) is pushing ahead with a premier midstream system in the Utica Shale, but its portion of a $640 million joint venture (JV) may put the company in a bind in 2016.

Rice is poised to outspend cash flow by more than $400 million in 2016 based on current strip prices.

Subsidiary Rice Midstream Holdings LLC (RMP) and ally Gulfport Energy Corp. (GPOR), which operate in an area of mutual interest (AMI) in the Utica, said Oct. 8 they will invest about $520 million to develop gathering and compression assets and $120 million for water assets within the JV over the next six years.

“This significantly increases Rice's retained midstream footprint in Ohio, which previously consisted solely of the acreage inside the Rice/GPOR AMI,” said Daniel Braziller, equity analyst for Jefferies LLC.