Squeezed by its largest shareholder to make major improvements, SandRidge Energy Inc. on Tuesday reaffirmed its 2018 guidance, noting that during the first quarter it reduced cash expenses by one-third.
The Oklahoma City-based independent, which emerged from bankruptcy in 2016, has seen a lot of changes in the past two years. Last November the company set its cap to purchase onshore producer Bonanza Creek Energy Inc., but the plan was quickly turned back after Carl Icahn swooped in, becoming the company’s largest shareholder.
Since then, the management team has been revamped, after CEO James Bennett and CFO Julian Bott were fired earlier this year. Independent director Bill Griffin now is leading the company.
Icahn Capital indicated in a filing last month that it’s not done in pushing for even more changes, but Griffin, during the quarterly conference call to discuss first quarter performance, said the company is demonstrating its ability to “execute and adapt,” noting that the “shift in strategy and leadership” is working.
"We significantly reduced overhead and improved operating margins, which better positions SandRidge to achieve profitable growth and value recognition,” Griffin said. The capital program also “continues to provide positive results.”
He pointed to solid activity during the first three months in northwestern Oklahoma’s STACK, i.e., the Sooner Trend of the Anadarko Basin, mostly in Canadian and Kingfisher counties, where SandRidge completed four Meramec wells with an average 30-day initial production rate of 675 boed, which exceeded pre-drill estimates.
In the North Park Basin of Colorado, SandRidge’s other big focus, he said capital expenditures (capex) were primarily associated with pad drilling in the core area to further define optimal well spacing.
“As a result, we have seven new North Park wells currently scheduled for completion, with expected significant associated oil production coming online this summer. Most importantly, our program, while delivering strong returns, continues to increase the level of confidence in our undeveloped resource value and potential.”
After reassessing the drilling portfolio, and in light of “the current commodity price environment,” management also has elected to reallocate a portion of its capex to the Mississippian Lime.
“We now plan to drill four new wells during the third quarter, which are expected to provide competitive returns and further demonstrate the current undeveloped value in this area after an extended period of drilling inactivity,” Griffin said. “This change will not impact our 2018 total company guidance."
The management team is “finalizing a comprehensive reassessment of the company's entire drilling inventory, along with the creation of an associated reserve development plan, which will lend support in the evaluation of any strategic alternatives,” Griffin noted. “We and our advisers are committed to a thorough and impartial review of all proposals and will proceed expeditiously to ascertain the best go-forward strategy for SandRidge."
During the first quarter, production totaled 3.2 million boe, 49% weighted to natural gas, 29% to oil and 22% to natural gas liquids. The company averaged one rig in the northwestern STACK targeting the Meramec and one rig targeting multiple benches of the Niobrara formation in the North Park Basin. Capital expenditures totaled $37 million.
Quarterly production in the Midcontinent totaled 2.9 million boe, or 32,000 boe/d. Oil production in the North Park Basin totaled 213,000 bbl, or 2,400 b/d.
During the quarter, the company agreed to add a small scale modular gas-to-liquids (GTL) processing facility at the Big Horn tank battery in Colorado initially able to process bout 500 Mcf/d. The GTL plant would be constructed and operated by an undisclosed third party at no cost to SandRidge. Both companies would share proceeds from associated liquids recovery.
“The facility provides a scalable gas processing option while the company advances its long-term development of pipeline takeaway,” management said. “Upon successful installation of the facility in 2019, the company will evaluate the potential to add additional GTL facilities.
Net losses in the first quarter totaled $41 million (minus $1.18/share), which included a $32 million charge related to employee termination benefits. For 1Q2017, SandRidge had reported net profits of $50.8 million ($1.90/share). Total expenses in 1Q2018 were $129 million, versus $47.6 million a year ago.
As of May 1, liquidity totaled $436 million, which included $18 million of cash and $418 million of borrowing capacity. The company said it currently has no funds drawn under its credit facility.