Continental Resources Inc. reported production increases across the board, including a surge in the Midcontinent, and said plans are on track to reduce debt sharply by year's end.
The Oklahoma City-based independent reported 4Q2018 production of 324,001 boe/d, up 12.9% from the year-ago quarter and 9.1% sequentially. Broken down by play, production in the Sooner Trend of the Anadarko Basin mostly in Canadian and Kingfisher counties, aka the STACK, surged to 62,947 boe/d, up 31.4% from the year-ago quarter and 12.1% sequentially. Production from the Bakken Shale averaged 183,836 boe/d in 4Q2018, up 11% from the year-ago quarter and 9.7% sequentially.
Meanwhile, production in the South Central Oklahoma Oil Province, aka the SCOOP, was 67,244 boe/d in 4Q2018, up 8% from 4Q2017 and 6.3% sequentially.
Production from Project SpringBoard, a multi-year program to develop oil and liquids-rich assets in Oklahoma's stacked reservoirs, averaged 67,244 boe/d in 4Q2018, up 8% from the year-ago quarter and 6% sequentially. Continental said it currently has 45 gross operated wells in SpringBoard awaiting completion, 18 of which target the Springer Shale and 27 targeting the Woodford Shale and the Sycamore formation.
Full-year production averaged 298,190 boe/d in 2018, up 22.9% from 2017. STACK production helped drive the year/year (y/y) increase, reaching 56,055 boe/d in 2018, up 54.8% from 2017. Bakken production increased 26.2% y/y to 167,800 boe/d, while SCOOP production increased 6% to 64,339 boe/d.
Crude oil production averaged 168,177 b/d in 4Q2018, up 21% from the year-ago quarter. Full-year oil production averaged 186,934 b/d in 2018, a 14% y/y increase over 2017.
Continental reiterated its plans to spend $2.6 billion on capital expenditures (capex) in 2019, including about $2.2 billion of drilling and completions, which would be about evenly divided between operations in the Bakken and Oklahoma. News that Continental would spend more on capex in 2019 has marked a departure from many Lower 48 producers, nearly all of whom have curtailed their capex plans because of ongoing low commodity prices.
The capex plan for 2019 is projected to generate about $3 billion in cash flow from operations and $500-600 million of free cash flow, assuming a West Texas Intermediate price of $55/bbl and a Henry Hub price of $3/Mcf. Cash flows at that level would permit the company to reduce its net debt to $5 billion.
"Over the next five years, we are targeting free cash flow generation, continued debt reduction and an average 12.5% compound annual production growth rate to drive strong corporate returns and continued shareholder value," said CFO John Hart.
Plans by Continental to boost oil production 13-19% y/y to 190,000-200,000 b/d and natural gas production by 1-4% y/y to 790,000-810,000 Mcf/d in 2019 were unchanged. The company also kept plans to operate an average of 25 rigs in 2019, with six deployed in the Bakken and 19 in Oklahoma. About 12 of the rigs in Oklahoma are to focus on Project SpringBoard. By comparison, the company had 31 rigs deployed at the end of 2018.
The company expects to average nine completion crews during 2019, with four in the Bakken and five in Oklahoma. About 207 net operated wells are expected to be completed and turned online this year -- 107 in the Bakken and 100 Oklahoma.
Continental reported net income of $197.7 million in 4Q2018 (53 cents/share), compared with year-ago profits of $841.9 million ($2.25). For the full-year 2018, net income was $988.3 million ($2.64/share) from $789.4 million ($2.11) in 2017. Revenues totaled $1.15 billion in 4Q2018, up 9.8% from the year-ago quarter. Full-year revenues totaled $4.71 billion, up 50.9% from 2017.