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Gulfport Scoping Out SCOOP, Still Eyeing Utica in 2017

Gulfport Energy Corp. has plans this year to get familiar with the South Central Oklahoma Oil Province (SCOOP), hoping to transfer what it's learned during the last five years in Ohio's Utica Shale to the Midcontinent's stacked pay potential.

The company acquired 46,400 net surface acres last year in a deal that's soon expected to close. Once it does, Gulfport plans to run four rigs in the SCOOP with the Woodford and Springer shales as its primary targets. Other than legacy assets on the Gulf Coast, Gulfport has been focused in recent years on its more than 200,000 net acres in the Utica.

"Myself and the majority of our geoscience staff started out working in the Midcontinent. In fact, the greater part of our careers have been spent here," said Gulfport’s Stuart Maier, vice president of geological and geophysical this week during a call to discuss the Oklahoma City-based company's year-end results.

"As we have branched out in other areas -- Gulf Coast, Appalachia, Rockies -- the geology is different, but a rock's a rock; the more you work them, they are similar as they are different. The strategies to improve results, such as lateral placement and enhanced completions, are as applicable here as they are in the Utica."

Eventually, the company plans to focus on other prospective zones. In particular, management sounded optimistic about the Sycamore, a formation similar in age to the Meramec and Osage that are being developed to the north of Gulfport's new position in the Sooner Trend of the Anadarko Basin, mostly in Canadian and Kingfisher counties (STACK). The Sycamore is sandwiched between the Woodford and Springer and is more than 250 feet thick across the company's position.

"Operators are currently drilling this section, and we are monitoring the results as nonoperating partners," Maier said of the Sycamore. "Our plan for 2017 is to focus development in the Woodford lean gas and wet gas areas, and to begin testing the Springer and Sycamore intervals by the end of the year."

Gulfport has budgeted $1-1.1 billion for its capital program for 2017, up from about $550 million last year. It plans to run six rigs in the Utica and deploy one drilling rig and one recompletion rig to its legacy fields in South Louisiana this year. The company said it would drill 16-18 net horizontal wells in the SCOOP and another 67-74 net wells in the Utica, with plans to turn to sales nearly as many in both plays.

The company finished the year strong, exceeding the high-end of its quarterly guidance with 787 MMcfe/d of production during the fourth quarter, up 7% from 3Q2016 and 22% from the year-ago period. Natural gas accounted for 87% of the quarter's production.

With the SCOOP assets added to its portfolio, Gulfport is guiding for 2017 production of up to 1.1 Bcfe/d, or 53% higher than its average 2016 production of 719.8 MMcfe/d.

The Utica accounted for 768 MMcfe/d of fourth quarter production. Northeast fundamentals appeared to improve during the fourth quarter with an all-in average price -- excluding hedges -- of $2.67/MMcfe. That was up from the year-ago period when the company reported $2.00/Mcfe.

Firming prices and operational gains, however, weren't enough to offset hedging losses and steep impairment charges for the fourth quarter and full-year.  The company reported a fourth quarter net loss of $240.4 million (minus $1.86/share) on oil and gas revenues of $63.4 million, compared to an $830.9 million loss (minus $7.67) in 4Q2015.

Gulfport's full-year net loss was $979.7 million (minus $7.97/share) on revenues of $385.9 million, compared to a net loss of $1.2 billion (minus $12.27) in 2015.

While the company's finances improved from steeper losses in 2015, a hedge loss of $323.3 million and impairment charges of $715.5 million in 2016 held earnings back.  At year-end, Gulfport had $1.3 billion in cash and an undrawn credit facility of $700 million.

 

 

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