Newfield Exploration Co. offered what some analysts took to be a conservative outlook for activity in 2017, but during a conference call Wednesday, CEO Lee Boothby said the company is ready "to step on the accelerator" when stronger commodity prices and incremental cash flow give it the incentive.
Newfield's capital budget for 2017 is about $1 billion. Substantially all of it is allocated to domestic operations and 85% is earmarked for the SCOOP (South Central Oklahoma Oil Province) and STACK (Sooner Trend of the Anadarko Basin, mostly Canadian and Kingfisher counties). The company said it expects to drill 85-90 wells in the STACK and up to 50 wells in the SCOOP.
The estimated compound annual growth rate for net production with West Texas Intermediate prices of $50-60/bbl from 2017 to 2019 is 15-20% for domestic oil production and 10-15% for total production, Newfield said.
"Our focus has now shifted to development as we plan to aggressively attack our SCOOP and STACK plays to accelerate value creation for our stockholders," Boothby said.
"Our confidence in the Anadarko Basin has allowed us to outline a 2017-2019 forecast with industry-leading liquids growth. Our oil growth will largely be driven by the rapid development of our legacy STACK acreage in the heart of the play's oil window. Our production outlook includes a relatively static rig count of about 10 operated rigs. As oil prices improve, we have the organizational capacity and the financial resources to further accelerate our activity levels in the future."
Plans to accelerate activity this year were talked about during last quarter’s earnings call as well.
Although Newfield's drilling campaign is weighted toward multi-well pad developments, capital will be directed to test other prospective, stacked horizons on existing acreage positions, it said. The net unrisked resource potential associated with the program is more than one billion boe, Newfield said. Investments are also planned for infrastructure and land.
Domestic net production for 2017 is expected to average 142,500-145,500 boe/d, or an increase of 3-5% (adjusted for 2016 asset sales). The growth profile in 2017 is expected to be back-end-weighted due to the timing of completions of multi-well development pads in the STACK. All of the operated rigs in the STACK today are drilling on multi-well pads. The 2017 fourth quarter net domestic production average is expected to be 150,000-160,000 boe/d.
The Woodlands, TX-based producer said fourth quarter 2017 net production from the Anadarko Basin is expected to increase to 105,000-115,000 boe/d, an approximate 25% increase over fourth quarter 2016 levels. Looking forward, SCOOP and STACK volumes are expected to average 150,000-170,000 boe/d in the fourth quarter of 2019.
The company plans to continue operating a single rig in the Williston Basin throughout 2017 where recent extended lateral wells are being drilled and completed (including facilities) for about $5 million gross. In addition, drilling will continue in the Uinta Basin with a single rig operating under a joint venture in the Central Basin. Recent results have delivered significantly lower total well costs.
Gabriele Sorbara, an analyst with The Williams Capital Group, said the three-year outlook is "solid" but the company is likely erring on the conservative side for the current quarter's outlook.
"While its 2017 production guidance is short of expectations, we believe management is coming out conservative," Sorbara said. David Tameron of Wells Fargo Securities LLC also noted that Newfield's production guidance for 2017 was below Wall Street estimates.
No additional capital is planned for China. Newfield recently reached an agreement to sell its interest in nonoperated producing oil fields in Bohai Bay China for $39 million, with the sale expected to close around mid-year. Including the effect of the Bohai Bay sale, 2017 net production in China is expected to average nearly 6,000 boe/d.
Fourth quarter net income was $13 million (7 cents/share) compared with a net loss of $663 million (minus $4.06) in the year-ago quarter. The company posted a loss of $1.23 billion (minus $6.36/share) for 2016 compared with a net loss of $3.36 billion (minus $21.18) in 2015. Revenues for the fourth quarter were $415 million compared with $362 million in the year-ago quarter. Full-year revenue was $1.47 billion from $1.56 billion in 2015.
Newfield's total net production in the fourth quarter of was 13.9 million boe, composed of 44% oil, 18% natural gas liquids and 38% natural gas. Domestic net production in the fourth quarter was 12.7 million boe, composed of 39% oil, 20% natural gas liquids and 41% natural gas. For the full year net production was 59.6 million boe, of which 5.4 million boe was from offshore China.
Year-end proved reserves were up 1% year-over-year to 513 million boe (99% domestic) despite the effect of lower crude oil and natural gas prices used in year-end reserve calculations. Crude oil and natural gas prices used in this calculation were $42.82/bbl (down 15%) and $2.48/MMBtu (down 4%), respectively. As a result, pre-tax present value of reserves (discounted at 10%) at year-end 2016 was about $2.7 billion, down 9% over the prior year-end.
The increase in proved reserves of 4 million boe resulted from positive revisions of 36 million boe and cost structure improvement revisions of 7 million boe, which were partially offset by negative revisions of 22 million boe resulting from commodity price decreases, Newfield said. During 2016, the company added proved reserves of 77 million boe, which included 35 million boe of reserves purchased and 42 million boe added through extensions, discoveries and other additions.
During 2016 the company sold nonstrategic assets with reserves of 35 million boe.
About 56% of proved reserves are liquids and 61% are proved developed. The largest source of reserve additions during 2016 came from the Anadarko Basin, which now total 330 million boe and comprise nearly two-thirds of Newfield's total proved reserves. The proved reserve life index is nine years.