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Permian Basin pure-play Energen Corp. beat its production guidance for the fourth quarter and for the full-year 2017, and executives disclosed that they are reviewing four board candidates submitted last month by an investor that wants the company to be sold.
The Birmingham, AL-based independent reported on Monday that it produced 97,400 boe/d in 4Q2017, an 82% increase from the year-ago quarter (53,500 boe/d) and 14% above the high end of its production guidance (85,700 boe/d). Oil production also increased 82% year/year, to 58,100 b/d in 4Q2017, up from 32,000 b/d in 4Q2016. Full-year production was 76,100 boe/d in 2017, up 28.8% from 2016.
During the fourth quarter, Energen turned 20 gross (16 net) wells to sales in the Permian’s Midland sub-basin and five gross (five net) wells to sales in the Delaware sub-basin. The company attributed the wells' early performance to the successful deployment of its Generation 3 hydraulic fracture (frack) design, whichboosted its full-year production guidance last year. Energen operated six horizontal drilling rigs and two frack crews during the quarter.
Energen said it plans to spend $1.1-1.3 billion this year on drilling and development. Plans include drilling 130 gross (120 net) horizontal wells and completing 123 gross (113 net), including 30 gross (28) net wells that were drilled but uncompleted (DUC) at the end of 2017.
Full-year production for 2018 is forecast at 91,500-98,500 boe/d, a 25% increase from the 2017 midpoint. It expects to produce 48,500-51,500 in the Midland sub-basin and 37,000-39,000 boe/d in the Delaware sub-basin. For 1Q2018, production is estimated at 49,500-52,500 boe/d in the Midland and 30,000-32,000 boe/d in the Delaware.
Last month, Corvex Management LP, a hedge fund that owns about 9.9% of Energen's outstanding shares and is led by Keith Meister, submitted four nominees for election to the board. Shareholders would be eligible to vote for the board at the annual meeting, which has not yet been scheduled. Energen in late January blasted Corvex for pushing a “singularly focused agenda to sell the company regardless of market conditions and the company's continued improving performance."
Although Energen executives did not mention Corvex or Meister by name during an earnings call Tuesday to discuss 4Q2017 and the full-year 2017, CEO James McManus said he thought merger and acquisition activity over the next three years would be "very modest."
"I think the capture is largely over," McManus said. "We don't really need to acquire better land. We've got a deep inventory with great returns, and so we're not really looking to beat that up. If it's not longer laterals or bolt-ons or adding to our core position -- and we did a lot of that over the last few years -- then I think it's going to be fairly modest going forward."
Energen reported net income of $262.4 million ($2.68/share) in 4Q2017, compared with a net loss of $54.5 million (minus 56 cents) in the year-ago quarter. For the full-year, the company reported net earnings of $306.8 million ($3.14) in 2017, versus a net loss of $167.5 million (minus $1.77) in 2016.