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Continental Boosts SCOOP, Bakken Reserves

Continental Resources Corp. said its proved reserves and production both grew in 2014 -- by 25% and 28%, respectively -- thanks in large part to the Bakken Shale and a legacy shale play the company has embraced in south-central Oklahoma.

The Oklahoma City-based independent reported proved reserves of 1.35 billion boe as of Dec. 31, an increase of 267 million boe (25%) from the end of 2013, it said Tuesday. Continental said 83% of proved reserves were operated and 36% classified as proved developed producing (PDP). The reserves are 64% weighed to crude oil. The company said it has grown its proved reserves at a compound annual growth rate of 39% since the end of 2010.

The PDP reserves increased 21% year/year to 490 million boe. The company also said it had 2,994 gross (1,565 net) proved undeveloped (PUD) locations at the end of 2014, with the Bakken accounting for 82%. The present value times 10 (PV-10) of proved reserves at the end for 2014 totaled $22.8 billion, a 13% increase over a PV-10 of $20.2 billion in 2013, it said.

According to Continental, the Bakken accounted for 866 million boe of proved reserves with a PV-10 value of $15.2 billion. Proved reserves in the Springer and Woodford shale portions of the South Central Oklahoma Oil Province (SCOOP) accounted for 370 million boe of proved reserves last year, with a PV-10 value of $5.5 billion. Proved reserves in the SCOOP grew 72% from the end of 2013, when they totaled 215 million boe.

The company's estimated total production for the full-year 2014 was 63 million boe, a 28% increase over 2013. Crude oil accounted for 70% of total production (44.5 million bbl), while estimate natural gas production for 2014 was 114.3 Bcf. Continental said it reached a new record for net production in late December 2014, when it hit 200,000 boe/d.

CEO Harold Hamm said 2014 was the seventh consecutive year since its initial public offering  that reserves and production had grown significantly.

"Our core assets in the Bakken of North Dakota and SCOOP Woodford/Springer in Oklahoma continue to provide exceptional results and are a testament to the quality of the base assets and the ability of our teams," Hamm said. "Our asset quality and resource inventory are world-class."

Citing the increase in proved reserves and de-risking in Williston Basin core and upside locations in the SCOOP, analysts with Canaccord Genuity on Wednesday raised the target price for Continental's stock from $45/share to $54/share. They added that the company remained one of its top picks in the Williston.

"We continue to like Continental in large part for its quality acreage positions," analysts Stephen Berman and Sam Burwell said in a note Wednesday. "We expect the company to drill the best locations on its Williston Basin leasehold in 2015.

"Continental anticipates these core Bakken wells to yield an average 800,000 boe EUR [estimated ultimate recovery] and cost $8.2 million apiece, assuming 15% cost deflation. Such wells would generate a respectable estimated 20% IRR [internal rate of return] at $55/bbl West Texas Intermediate. We also believe the SCOOP, especially its newest Springer Shale discovery, to be significantly under-appreciated by the market. Springer oil and Woodford condensate wells should generate robust rates of return -- both about 35% IRRs -- even in a $55 oil/$3.50 natural gas environment, also assuming 15% cost deflation."

Continental announced discoveries in the Springer Shale portion of the SCOOP last September, nearly two years after it first disclosed reworking the play (see Shale DailySept. 18, 2014Oct. 11, 2012). The company claims SCOOP is geographically similar to the Bakken, Eagle Ford and Marcellus shales.

Continental said it plans to release its 4Q2014 and full-year 2014 earnings on Feb. 24, after the close of trading on the New York Stock Exchange. It scheduled an earnings call to discuss both results at 12 p.m. EST on Feb. 25.

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