Author: Hannah Mumby

Share issuances in vogue for U.S. oil & gas companies in 2016

The amount of cash raised by 68 U.S. oil and gas companies via a net issuance in new shares soared to a three-year high of $19.4 billion in Q2 2016, according to Evaluate Energy’s new study focused on U.S. oil and gas company cash flow, which can be downloaded here.

In response to changing attitudes to debt and fewer asset sales, companies have been more inclined to issue shares to source external cash in recent periods (see notes). This trend started in Q1 2015, as the commodity price downturn began to impact cash flow, and has become more pronounced ever since.

US_Capex_Chart_01

Source:  Evaluate Energy Study – Cash Flow in U.S. Oil & Gas (Appendix)

Cash sourced via net share issuances made up 43% of all external cash raised in Q2 2016. This stands in stark contrast to periods before the downturn; in Q3 2014, only 16% of external cash raised came from net share issuances.

This finding is among several key conclusions of the new study that unpacks the altered relationship between cash flow and capital expenditure in the U.S. oil and gas space. For more information on the study, click here.

Of course, the value of the individual shares being sold will be much lower than in 2013 or 2014, but U.S. oil companies have clearly had success selling shares in recent periods, despite the challenging climate, perhaps looking to benefit from bargain hunting investors looking to enter the oil market at a low price.

The movement towards share issuance in part reflects the oil price drop and a major reduction in the ability to secure debt financing, given continued market uncertainty. Since Q3 2014, the amount of cash raised by U.S. oil and gas companies via a net increase in debt dropped by almost two-thirds to US$14.2 billion. The study discovered that, in fact, the 68 U.S. companies raised the least amount of cash in Q2 2016 through net debt increases than in any other quarter over the entire three year period.

Cash raised via net asset or business unit sales also dropped in 2016 compared to periods before the downturn. The 68 companies raised 69% less cash from net asset or business unit divestitures in Q2 2016 compared to Q3 2014, the final period before the price downturn began.

This raising of external finance, and the movement towards issuing shares, has been necessary for U.S. oil and gas companies because their operating cash flow is not covering their capital expenditure needs. While this internal financing gap between operating cash flow and cap-ex was at its tightest in Q2 2016 compared to any other period over the last three years, external cash in some form was still required.

US_Capex_Chart_02

Source:  Evaluate Energy Study – Cash Flow in U.S. Oil & Gas

Of course, cap-ex is not the only cash outflow that oil and gas companies have seen piling up in recent times. However, it is encouraging that the majority of the 68 companies, despite their varying financing gaps, were actually able to cover all cash outgoings in Q2 2016 with a combination of operating cash flow and external cash sources – and many of the companies have a successful share issuance to thank.

CTA-US-Cash-Flow-2016

Notes

  • External cash in this report and the Evaluate Energy study is all cash raised excluding operating cash flow. This includes net increases in debt, net issuances of shares and net sales of assets or business units.
  • For all items above described as “net”, such as net increase in debt for example, the cash out-flows related to debt was subtracted from the cash in-flows related to debt in each period, and only the resultant positive net item was included as a cash in-flow. For net share issuances, the calculation was carried out by combining cash inflow from the sale of new stock and cash outflow from stock repurchases. For net sales of assets or business units, any cash inflow from the sales of assets or businesses was combined with cash outflows from asset or corporate acquisitions.

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What are 3P Oil & Gas Reserves and Why Are They Important?

Evaluate Energy and CanOils have recently added 3P oil and gas reserves to our databases, enhancing two already extensive oil and gas company data analysis tools. But what are 3P reserves, and why are they important?

What Are 3P Reserves?

Understanding a company’s recoverable oil & gas reserves is important when trying to establish their present and future value, but to do this you first need to understand the reserve information that is being provided.

There are 3 main reserve categories under the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) definition: proved; probable and possible reserves.

For an oil or gas deposit to be classified as “reserves,” you first need to establish technical and commercial certainty of extraction using existing technology. Once this has been established, the degree of this certainty is then decided, breaking reserves down into 3 distinct categories:

  • Proved Reserves, 90% Certainty of Commercial Extraction
  • Probable Reserves, 50% Certainty of Commercial Extraction
  • Possible Reserves, 10% Certainty of Commercial Extraction

3P reserves refers to the combination of all three of these totals, i.e. Proved plus Probable plus Possible.

Anything below “possible”, i.e. less than a 10% certainty of being able to commercially extract the oil or gas with currently available technology, will fall into ‘contingent resources’ or ‘recoverable resources’ categories. See the below diagram of the SPE definitions for further detail.

Why Do Only Some Companies Report 3P Reserves?

Proved (1P) and Proved plus Probable (2P) reserves are commonly used throughout the oil and gas world, but 3P reserve information, Proved plus Probable plus Possible, is relatively scarce. This is due to basic reporting requirements set by governing bodies. In Canada, for example, companies have to report proved (1P) and proved plus probable (2P) reserves under NI-51-101 regulations, but 3P will only be reported if the company chooses to do so, as there is no legal obligation. This means that the cost of having oil and gas deposits evaluated by reserves engineers for 3P reserves can be weighed up against the overall benefit/potential investment a company will get from publishing the findings, to see if it is worth carrying out at all.

Therefore, many companies will not report their full spectrum of reserves under all classifications to the investment community unless they see a benefit of doing so. This balance between cost and benefits is also a reason why many companies will only give 3P reserves for certain fields, focus areas, or prized assets – paying for assessments of deposits you aren’t going to develop any time soon is not required.

Why are they important?

Despite this lack of legal obligation and the extra costs involved causing many companies to opt out of 3P reserves disclosure, and the fact that reserves engineers are only between 10%-49% certain of being able to extract them, Evaluate Energy and CanOils still feel that it is important information for our clients to see.

We are now seeing more and more companies beginning to report 3P reserves, especially from the junior end of the company spectrum. Junior companies will typically buy into prospective fields, spend their first few years in existence trying to prove commerciality, and then either get acquired by or merge with a bigger player, or are joined in their commercially viable oil or gas project by a bigger player who typically takes on most of the operating costs – known as a farm-in partner.

In the junior companies’ early days of evaluating an asset, there isn’t a lot of money going around to pay for extensive exploration work. So typically, only a high level overview is possible, which results in little or no proved or probable reserves being booked, but maybe a high amount of possible reserves. 3P reserves are therefore a great barometer, despite their 10% certainty rating, to assess the potential of certain assets or entire companies if they are at these early stages of development.

The TSX-V exchange in Canada and the AIM exchange in London have many companies that fit this description, and 3P reserves and the hundreds of metrics Evaluate Energy and CanOils provide alongside them will be vital to any analysis of these emerging oil and gas players.

SPE Oil & Gas Reserves and Resources Definitions

SPE-Definitions

Evaluate Energy and Canoils provide efficient data solutions for oil and gas company analysis, with over a decade of historical financial and operating data, and extensive M&A, Assets and Financings databases. To find out more about the data we provide, download our Evaluate Energy or CanOils brochures now!

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