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Abraxas Seeking Bolt-Ons, Says Production to Increase After Six Wells Completed

Abraxas Petroleum Corp. said it expects production to increase dramatically later this year once six wells are completed in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, the company is in negotiations for bolt-on acquisitions in the plays were it is active -- the Delaware sub-basin, Williston Basin and the Eagle Ford Shale.

The San Antonio-based company said two Delaware wells targeting the Wolfcamp formation -- the Caprito 98-201H and Caprito 98-301HR -- have been drilled and cased, and are scheduled for completion in June. The former well has been drilled into the A1 interval of the Wolfcamp, while the latter is targeting the A2 interval. The company owns an 88% working interest (WI) in both wells, which were drilled in Ward County, TX.

At the company's North Fork prospect in the Williston Basin, Abraxas has four wells on a pad in McKenzie County, ND -- Stenehjem 6H through 9H -- scheduled for completion by the end of the month. The company said it plans to hydraulically fracture each well with a 41-stage completion using 870 pounds per foot of proppant and multiple diversions. Abraxas owns a 75% WI in the wells.

During a conference call last week to discuss 1Q2017, CEO Bob Watson said the Stenehjem wells were drilled to a depth of about 21,000 feet and include 10,000-foot laterals. He said production facilities were under construction, and that first oil from the wells was expected near the end of June. Abraxas started a continuous one-rig drilling program last March.

"We plan to run one-rig program to continue for the foreseeable future," Watson said. "We are actively negotiating a number of bolt-on acquisitions -- at reasonable prices on interest either under our existing units, adjacent to our existing units, or very proximal to our existing units. We hope to have some news on our efforts in this regard in the very near future."

While Abraxas is looking for opportunities to add to its portfolio, itbegan its exit from the Powder River Basin (PRB) in Wyoming earlier this year, when it closed on the sale of its Brooks Draw assets for $11.1 million. The sale included 14,229 net acres and 28 b/d of net production.

But according to the company's most recent investor presentation from April, Abraxas is still looking for a buyer of its 2,088 net acres in its Porcupine area of the PRB, as well as an additional 2,667 net acres in "other" areas. The total acreage includes 150 boe/d of net production, with 45% oil.

"Bids not acceptable to date -- will continue to explore opportunities to exit position," the company said in the April presentation. Abraxas said it has monetized about $26.9 million of non-core assets since Jan. 1, 2016, with proceeds going to reduce the company's debt.

At the end of 1Q2017, Abraxas had $18 million drawn on its$300 million revolving credit facility, with a borrowing base of $115 million and liquidity of $97.8 million. The company said it expects its borrowing base to be reaffirmed and the maturity of the revolving credit facility to be extended to 2021 following a regularly scheduled redetermination this month.

Abraxas reported total production of 614,000 boe (6,822 boe/d) in 1Q2017, a 14.1% increase quarter/quarter from the 538,000 boe (5,916 boe/d) produced in 1Q2016. Lease operating expenses fell 23.9%, from $8.82/boe in 1Q2016 to $6.71/boe in 1Q2017.

The company left unchanged its full-year production guidance of 7,800-8,600 boe/d and its capital expenditures budget of $110 million, which the company said will be used to complete 22 gross (14.6 net) wells -- 7 gross (6 net) in the Delaware sub-basin; 13 gross (6.6 net) in the Bakken Shale and Three Forks formation; and 2 gross (2 net) in the Austin Chalk. Abraxas plans to exit the year at a production rate of 9,500 boe/d.

Future wells include the Caprito 83-304H and Caprito 83-404H (81% WI), which Abraxas recently spud on a two-well pad. The former well is targeting the A2 interval of the Wolfcamp, while the latter is targeting the formation's B interval. Meanwhile, the company spud a three-well (52% WI) pad on its Yellowstone unit in the Williston Basin -- Yellowstone 2H and 4H will target the Middle Bakken, while Yellowstone 3H will target the Three Forks.

Elsewhere, Abraxas also recently spud the Shut Eye 1H well in Atascosa County, TX, targeting the Eagle Ford Shale. The company plans to complete the well (100% WI) in July using diverters and other enhanced completion and steering techniques.

Abraxas reported net income of about $13.7 million (nine cents/share) in 1Q2017, with operating income of about $5 million. By comparison, the company reported a net loss of about $40.9 million (minus 39 cents/share) in the year-ago quarter, with an operating loss of $40.1 million.

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