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Clayton Williams Raising Two Rigs in Texas, Increasing Capex

Clayton Williams Energy Inc. (CWEI) is raising it capital expenditure plans this year and resuming drilling in Texas in the Permian Basin and the Upper Eagle Ford Shale during the third quarter, the company said Thursday.

A horizontal rig is to be hoisted in Reeves County, TX, in the heart of the Permian's Wolfcamp Shale within the Delaware subbasin. The Midland, TX-based independent's leasehold in the Wolfcamp extends across 66,000 net acres. Energen Corp. and Cimarex Energy Co. also plan to resume drilling in the Permian in the second half of the year (see Shale DailyJune 17).

Another horizontal rig would resume working in the Austin Chalk, which extends into the Upper Eagle Ford Shale. CWEI has a 170,000 net-acre leasehold that pushes across Robertson, Burleson, Lee and Bastrop counties north of Houston.

Drilling and completion costs associated with the added rigs for the remainder of 2015 are expected to total $35 million, which would be financed by the credit facility, the operator noted.

CWEI is reducing the size of its Eagle Ford leasehold with the sale of 3,700 net acres in Burleson County to an undisclosed buyer. The $22.1 million sale, which implies a price of around $6,000/acre, would be terminated on Oct. 27 unless the buyer begins a 90-day "continuous development program," it noted.

As part of the Burleson County sale, rights are being retained for "all depths and formations other than the Eagle Ford formation," as well as stakes in acreage and production associated with the Porter E Unit No. 1, the only Eagle Ford well now situated in the sold leasehold.

Wunderlich Securities Inc. analyst Irene Haas said CWEI could drill one Wolfcamp well every two months, which means there could be two or three more wells there this year. Eagle Ford wells "can be drilled at a pace of one well per month," and with capital expenditures increased, "this would mean four to five Eagle Ford wells" by the end of the year.

"The company's well cost guidance remains the same at $6.6 million for a Wolfcamp well and $4.0 million for an Eagle Ford well," Haas noted. "At $60/bbl oil and $3.00/Mcf natural gas, Clayton Williams estimates returns of 26% in the Wolfcamp and 30% returns in the Eagle Ford."

The company's 2015 production likely is going to be near the higher end of guidance, she said. Its previous guidance was 14,422-15,200 boe/d based on no rigs through 2015.

"While most of the new production from the rigs will come in 2016, some of it will still impact 4Q2015 production, meaning 2015 production should likely be closer to the higher end of guidance. To really see production growth, CWEI would need three rigs. In 2016, production is likely to be just slightly below 2015 production levels given the two rigs."

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