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Anadarko’s 2019 Mantra: Spend Less, Produce More

Anadarko Petroleum Corp. is promising more production on a leaner budget in 2019, even as it gears investments to a conservative $3.00/Mcf natural gas price and $50/bbl oil.

The Houston-based super independent late Thursday issued its capital expenditure (capex) guidance for the coming year. Of the total global investments planned, $4.3-4.7 billion, $3.1 billion is set aside for U.S. onshore targets.

"Our 2019 investment plan further demonstrates the capital efficiency of our portfolio," CEO Al Walker said. "We believe our peer-leading ability to attractively grow oil volumes within cash flow in a $50 oil environment while delivering significant free cash flow above this break-even point, positions our company very well to execute on our expanded shareholder-return commitments in the near term and in a durable fashion well into the future."

Even with lower overall spending, Anadarko is forecasting a 10% year/year increase in oil production. Total sales volumes for 2019 are tentatively forecast at 260-270 million boe, versus 2018 guidance of 240-245 million boe.

Oil volumes alone are expected to average 410,000-435,000 boe/d in 2019, compared with 2018 volumes of 380,000-389,000 boe/d.

The 2018 capex budget originally was set at $4.2-4.6 billion, but spending was increased by $250 million to boost development in the Permian Basin’s Delaware sub-basin and Denver-Julesburg (DJ) Basin.

About 70% of 2019 capex is to be directed toward U.S. onshore oil-levered assets, defined as the Permian Delaware, DJ and Powder River Basin (PRB).

In the U.S. onshore next year, Anadarko expects to operate on average 15 rigs and 10 completion crews, primarily for development activities in the DJ and in the Delaware in West Texas, where $1.4 billion has been allocated for upstream activities.

“The successful expansion of the company's infrastructure footprint, including oil gathering and treating throughout West Texas, has paved the way to transition to multi-well pad development,” which were illustrated by “encouraging early results at the Silvertip-A campaign,” management said.

In the DJ, $1.3 billion also has been set aside for upstream activities, mostly to work within an infrastructure-advantaged position in the Wattenberg field.

Appraisal of the PRB in Wyoming, Anadarko’s newest target, has been funded to complete 10-15 operated horizontal wells targeting the southern Turner formation in Converse County.

Beyond the U.S. onshore, Anadarko has earmarked $500 million for the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, about $300 million less than in 2018. It still expects to deliver a similar number of wells as this year, while maintaining production of 140,000-150,000 boe/d.

Around $250 million is budgeted for exploration, mostly to identify “material and scalable opportunities in the U.S. onshore and satellite opportunities near existing operated facilities in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico.”

For costs associated with Anadarko’s portion of the Mozambique liquefied natural gas (LNG) project, which is awaiting a final investment decision (FID), around $200 million is being allocated for 2019. The company said it “remains on track for FID consideration in the first half of 2019,” with capex to be adjusted if and when the project is sanctioned.

Around $130 million is budgeted for midstream investments that would be made before Anadarko completes its Western Gas Partners LP (WES) drop-down, anticipated in early 2019.

Overall, about 16% of next year’s spend overall is to be directed to conventional oil, with 10% geared to exploration/LNG and 4% for corporate expenses.

In addition, the board has authorized a $1 billion increase to the share repurchase program, which now totals $5 billion, and it has approved a 20% increase to the quarterly dividend and a $500 million hike in the debt reduction program.

In other news, CFO Bob Gwin has been named president and will be responsible for leading worldwide operations, project management, exploration, midstream/marketing, as well as the expanding next-generation technology development and systems solutions.

"Bob has proven to be an exceptional leader since joining Anadarko in 2006, and in his new role will focus on strengthening our business results and furthering the company's advancement of technology and systems," Walker said.

Benjamin M. Fink, formerly CEO of the WES general partner, has been named CFO and also will serve as chairman of the WES partnerships’ boards. Investor relations chief Robin H. Fielder has been promoted to senior vice president of midstream, and takes over as CEO of the WES partnerships. Treasurer Michael C. Pearl will take over as the investor relations chief.

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