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Abraxas Hindered by Curtailments, Moving Forward with Permian Wolfcamp Plans

Abraxas Petroleum Corp. said two wells in the Permian Basin targeting the Wolfcamp formation are outperforming expectations, and four more wells are planned before the producer moves forward to test 660-foot spacing on a four-well pad.

Meanwhile, the San Antonio, TX-based company said producing assets in the Eagle Ford Shale of South Texas sustained no damage from Hurricane Harvey, although sales volumes were temporarily impacted from the closing of third-party midstream facilities and refineries along the Gulf Coast.

In an operational update Tuesday, Abraxas said the Caprito 98-201H well averaged 1,036 boe/d (873 b/d oil, 978 Mcf/d gas) over the first 30 days of initial production (IP). A second well, Caprito 98-301HR, averaged 999 boe/d (838 b/d oil, 962 Mcf/d gas) over its 30-day IP rate. Both wells were drilled in Ward County, TX, with 4,880-foot laterals -- the Caprito 98-201H targeted the Wolfcamp A1 zone, while the second Caprito well targeted the Wolfcamp A2 zone.

"Despite the fact both wells have yet to flow on more than a 24/64-inch choke, they continue to outperform our expectations," said CEO Bob Watson. The company flowed both wells back "using a more conservative choke management protocol after observing the practices of offsetting operators.

"While an uplift compared to earlier results is expected, its magnitude will not be fully measurable until the new wells reach maximum pressure drawdown." The company owns a 98% working interest (WI) in both wells.

Four additional wells in the Permian's Delaware sub-basin are in the works. Completions at two of them -- Caprito 83-304H and 83-404H, both 100% WI -- are expected to begin this week. Like the 301HR well, the 304H well also targets the Wolfcamp A2, while Abraxas is using the 404H well to de-risk the Wolfcamp B.

Abraxas also is drilling the Caprito 82-101H (100%) and 82-202H (62.5%) wells. According to a company presentation from August, the 101H well is targeting the Third Bone Spring formation, while the 202H well is targeting the Wolfcamp A1.

After the wells are completed, Abraxas plans to test 660-foot spacing at its Caprito asset. "The four-well downspacing test will consist of two Wolfcamp A2 wells and two Wolfcamp A1 wells," the company said. If successful, well spacing is expected to increase to eight wells per section from four wells in the Wolfcamp A1 and A2.

In mid-October, Watson said the company planned to attempt its first updated completion design in the Eagle Ford Shale at the Shut Eye 1H well, which has been drilled and cased. Abraxas also plans to complete in October the three-well Yellowstone 2H-4HR pad (52%) in the Bakken Shale in McKenzie County, ND.

"Finally, in November, we plan to finish the year with a two well completion in the Delaware," Watson said. "In total, we plan to complete and bring six net wells on production in the fourth quarter. We look forward to what promises to be another step-change in production."

Following Hurricane Harvey, Abraxas said about 700 boe/d was curtailed for one to three weeks in the Eagle Ford. All of the wells have since returned to producing at full rates, but the storm delayed completion of the Shut Eye 1H well. From mid-August through September, Abraxas said it also has curtailed gas in the Permian and the Bakken because of outages at third-party processing and/or compression facilities.

Third party midstream companies expect the outages in the Permian and Bakken to be resolved this week.

 "In total, Abraxas expects the curtailments in the Eagle Ford, Permian and Bakken to negatively impact largely natural gas and natural gas liquids production volumes by approximately 350 boe/d for the quarter." Despite the curtailments, Abraxas said yearly average production and exit rate guidance for the year remains unchanged.

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