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Edited Transcript of WCP.TO earnings conference call or presentation 30-Apr-20 3:00pm GMT

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Q1 2020 Whitecap Resources Inc Earnings Call May 6, 2020 (Thomson StreetEvents) -- Edited Transcript of Whitecap Resources Inc earnings conference call or presentation Thursday, April 30, 2020 at 3:00:00pm GMT TEXT version of Transcript ================================================================================ Corporate Participants ================================================================================ * Grant Bradley Fagerheim Whitecap Resources Inc. - President, CEO & Director * Joel M. Armstrong Whitecap Resources Inc. - VP of Production & Operations * Thanh C. Kang Whitecap Resources Inc. - CFO ================================================================================ Conference Call Participants ================================================================================ * Amir Arif Cormark Securities Inc., Research Division - Analyst of Institutional Equity Research * Josef I. Schachter Schachter Energy Research Services Inc. - Author & President * Juan Jarrah TD Securities Equity Research - Research Analyst * Luke Davis RBC Capital Markets, Research Division - Analyst * Dan Healing The Canadian Press Ltd. - Reporter ================================================================================ Presentation -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Operator [1] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Good morning. My name is Pam, and I'll be your conference operator today. At this time, I'd like to welcome everyone to the Whitecap Resources 2020 First Quarter Financial and Operational Results Conference Call. (Operator Instructions) I'd now like to turn the conference over to Whitecap's President and CEO, Mr. Grant Fagerheim. Please go ahead. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Grant Bradley Fagerheim, Whitecap Resources Inc. - President, CEO & Director [2] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Good morning, everyone. And thank you for joining us this morning. I am joined by 3 members of our senior management team: our CFO, Thanh Kang; as well as Darin Dunlop, our Vice President of Engineering; and Joel Armstrong, our Vice President of Production and Operations. Before we get started today, I would like to remind everybody that all statements made by the company during the call are subject to the same forward-looking disclaimer and advisory that we set forth in the quarter news release issued earlier this morning. We came into 2020 well positioned and started the year on a very strong note, not feeling the effects of the oversupplied oil market coinciding with the demand shocks caused by COVID-19 until later in the first quarter. Our production in the first quarter was above expectations at 73,452 BOE per day, and capital investments were lower than expected at $138.8 million. This allowed us to generate funds flow of $131.8 million or $0.32 per share in the quarter. The lower oil demand due to coronavirus and the crude oil supply glut has created an oil crisis that is unprecedented with crude oil recently trading off significantly to historic lows. Whitecap has taken real-time measures to deal with the crisis, and to date, we have identified $300 million of cash reductions through capital spending, operating expenses, general and administrative costs and our dividend. The quality of our assets is evident as only 2,000 BOE per day of production is currently deferred due to our low price -- crude oil price environment. And we anticipate these assets will return to production at approximately $40 WTI, depending on geographical region. Our criteria include capital payouts of less than 1 year for workovers. Our operating team has done an exceptional job of scrutinizing our assets down to a field level and, in some cases, down to a well level to determine the uneconomic production, which we define as shut-in operating income greater than ongoing operating income. We do not expect significant voluntary production shut-ins at this time on our assets as our base production has an operating breakeven of approximately $16.50 a barrel. Joel will be discussing our netback analysis further -- in further detail shortly. Our team has also been busy planning for the potential of involuntary shut-ins due to the pending storage constraints in North America. Our objective if we are focused -- forced to shut in is to do this in a methodical manner starting with the lowest netback assets with consideration given to cost and ease of start-up, operational constraints, technical reservoir considerations and current marketing commitments. In most of our operating regions, we were able to suspend a material amount of production with minimal negative reservoir and operational impacts. We also expect the restart of operations in most cases will be straightforward with minimal capital spending. If storage becomes full in North America and we are required to involuntarily suspend production, we have the ability to suspend up to 50,000 BOE per day of corporate production at a minimal incremental cost or risk. I will now pass on to Joel to provide more color on our shut-in analysis and to provide an update on our health, safety and environment results to date. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Joel M. Armstrong, Whitecap Resources Inc. - VP of Production & Operations [3] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Thanks, Grant. In response to the potential for forced production suspensions, we created a detailed interactive tool to analyze our netbacks at appropriate level to provide us with operating income sensitivity, including shut-in fixed costs. This then allows us to further scrutinize the data down to the well level. As mentioned, 2,000 BOE a day of current production remains shut-in as the economics for incremental capital do not meet our minimum return requirements at this time. On our remaining production, we continue to generate positive operating income and will continue to produce at these levels unless it requires workover capital that does not meet or return -- our return thresholds or forced suspensions occur. The operating income breakeven WTI price within our business units ranges from $12.25 per barrel in West Central Alberta to $19.50 per barrel in Northwest Alberta and BC with a corporate operating income breakeven WTI price of $16.50 per barrel. Health, safety and environmental performance was exceptional with a TRIF rate of 0.33, which is less than our 2-year average and better than any quarter in 2019. Spill performance was also vastly improved from previous years in both frequency and volume. The quarter was concluded with substantial efforts put towards addressing the COVID-19 crisis, including development of our field policy to ensure personnel safety and minimize business continuity risk. Procedures were developed for the entire company in the event that someone at a work site tests positive, 2 policies were developed for managing both construction and well-servicing work sites. The policies will allow Whitecap to minimize the risk of an infection and ensure contractors have developed and are following COVID-19 procedures. We have had no incidence of COVID-19 in our field operations or head office. With that, I will pass it on to Thanh to provide some color on our financial results. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Thanh C. Kang, Whitecap Resources Inc. - CFO [4] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Thanks, Joel. Net loss for the quarter was $2.1 billion or $5.17 per share. The net loss during the quarter was primarily due to a noncash accounting impairment expense of $2.9 billion, consisting of $2.8 billion charge to PP&E and $123 million charge to goodwill. The noncash accounting impairment expense was mainly due to significant decreases to the engineer's average price deck at March 31, 2020, compared to year-end 2019. Forecast WTI prices in 2020 decreased by 52% from $61 per barrel to $29.17 and, on average, decreased 38% in the first 3 years. In addition, the after-tax discount rate increased to 13% compared to 10% at year-end to account for increased risk on oil and gas assets. We would expect, going forward, any significant changes to the engineer's price deck or the discount rate would result in reversal of previous year's expenses or additional impairment expenses impacting net income. The DD&A rate was $18.72 per BOE in the first quarter compared to $19.55 in the fourth quarter of 2019. For the balance of the year, we are expecting the DD&A rate to be between $12 and $13 per BOE. Fund flow for the quarter was $131.8 million or $0.32 per share, which included realized hedging gains on commodity contracts of $19.8 million. Based on strip pricing, we are forecasting hedging gains of approximately $200 million in 2020. For further details on our outstanding hedges, refer to Note 5 on our financial statements. Whitecap's balance sheet remains strong with quarter end net debt at $1.27 billion on total capacity of $1.77 billion. Our debt-to-EBITDA ratio is 1.7x, and our EBITDA-to-interest ratio was 14x, both well within our debt covenants. With respect to 2020, we are now expecting capital expenditures of $51 million for the rest of the year for a total of $190 million for 2020. With production deferrals of 2,000 BOEs per day, our average production is anticipated to be between 65,000 to 67,000 BOEs per day for the full year. I will now pass it on to Grant for his closing remarks. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Grant Bradley Fagerheim, Whitecap Resources Inc. - President, CEO & Director [5] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Thanks, Thanh. We believe that over the last 10 years through our targeted M&A strategy and our focus on balance sheet strength and flexibility that Whitecap is very well positioned to make rational decisions that align with a reasonable view of the market in the long to medium term -- medium to long term. Given the extreme volatility and uncertainty, we feel it is prudent to monitor the market dynamics through the remainder of the second quarter before making additional adjustments, if any, to our monthly dividend. We will be definitive in our positioning of our dividend, additional hedges and our capital program heading into 2021 to ensure that we are able to sustainably advance our company within internally generated funds flow. These factors are guiding -- are gauging -- we are gauging include the total amount of industry voluntary shut-ins we will experience as most oil wells in North America are not able to generate positive funds flow at current crude oil prices. As tank capacity fills up in North America and storage gets full, there may be significant involuntary shut-ins required as we progress through the second quarter. We don't know when the peak demand destruction for COVID-19 will occur, however, we expect this could happen sometime in this second quarter. And it will be important to have a better understanding of what the pace and shape of recovery looks like going forward. Despite the uncertainties we are facing, we believe that our competitive advantages, including our strong financial position, robust hedge portfolio and the quality of our assets characterized by high operating netbacks and low production decline rates, allow us to not only survive through this period of extreme disruption, but will allow us to capture incremental opportunities both internally and externally to provide stronger returns for our shareholders when the environment improves. I again want to thank you for your interest and support of Whitecap. With that, I will turn the call over to the operator for any questions. Thank you. ================================================================================ Questions and Answers -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Operator [1] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- (Operator Instructions) Your first question comes from Amir Arif with Cormark. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Amir Arif, Cormark Securities Inc., Research Division - Analyst of Institutional Equity Research [2] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Grant, just a quick question for you in terms of the movements in oil and gas prices. When you are thinking of putting some capital back to work, is there a shift in terms of the specific type of assets you might be thinking about? And are you looking at more payout ratios instead of NPVs? Could you just give some color on that? And at what price do you think it starts to make sense, economic sense, to start putting the drill bit back to work? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Grant Bradley Fagerheim, Whitecap Resources Inc. - President, CEO & Director [3] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- So in reverse order on your questions, we're looking somewhere in the neighborhood of $40 WTI oil price environment, and that is going to be dependent upon what the differential looks like at that particular time as well. The differentials have come in markedly, as you would know, tighter than what we were expecting, projecting. That's why I say trying to gauge the behaviors of not only producers, but also what the market is doing is -- will be interesting over this next 3- to 4-month period of time. Our objective would be to go to our highest netback assets, firstly, when we recover. We think there will be a recovery, perhaps as late as sometime this year, the back half of 2020. But we would go back to our highest netback assets to put capital to work on an ongoing basis, again trying to generate the best returns for our shareholders on an ongoing basis that we can. We're also surprised ultimately here a bit on where natural gas has come to, trading for the 2021 year at just right around that $2.50 a GJ. So that still doesn't take us away from -- our target is to focus on the highest netback assets that we possibly can going forward into the back half of '20 and the full year '21, '22. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Amir Arif, Cormark Securities Inc., Research Division - Analyst of Institutional Equity Research [4] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Okay. And just a quick follow-up question. Just on the $16.50 per BOE breakeven price that you mentioned, is that a operating netback breakeven or a cash flow netback breakeven? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Thanh C. Kang, Whitecap Resources Inc. - CFO [5] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- That's an operating netback. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Amir Arif, Cormark Securities Inc., Research Division - Analyst of Institutional Equity Research [6] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Okay. And just one final quick question. Just on the reduction in the operating cost, is that primarily related to the just shut-in of volumes or this is more structural improvements in your cost structure? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Joel M. Armstrong, Whitecap Resources Inc. - VP of Production & Operations [7] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- It is a culmination -- sorry, it's Joel here. It's really in 2 layers. Phase 1 was more of a mechanical side, chemical usage, power optimization, R&M and workforce optimization. Kind of Phase 2, if you want to call it that, additional $22 million is more activity-based, so strongly associated with workover activity and vendor reductions. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Operator [8] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Your next question comes from Josef Schachter with Schachter Energy Research. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Josef I. Schachter, Schachter Energy Research Services Inc. - Author & President [9] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- You mentioned on the last question about $40 WTI being the trigger for going to your highest netback assets. If in the fourth quarter, the U.S. puts in a tariff, Trump needs those 6 energy states to get the electoral college votes he needs to be reelected, and let's say North America is covered within that not having the tariffs. If the prices go up and you end up with an extra $30 million, $50 million of cash flow, would you put that towards debt? And is debt an issue for you? Or because of all the covenants and the situation you have, the money would go directly into spending on your best netback assets? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Grant Bradley Fagerheim, Whitecap Resources Inc. - President, CEO & Director [10] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- So yes. Thanks, Josef. Our first objective always -- our first priority is going to be debt and balance sheet management. So in the near term, we would definitely look towards continuing to strengthen the balance sheet. But if there's an extra $30 million that could be applied into 2021, we would look to do that but again, with the backdrop of understanding what our leverage position is at that particular time. So first priority continues to be balance sheet management, and then we'll look to deploy the capital effectively to get the best returns we can going forward after that. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Josef I. Schachter, Schachter Energy Research Services Inc. - Author & President [11] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Okay. My second question is with the big write-down that you have and the PDP numbers probably coming down, when the bank takes a look at this, are you going to be looking at taking advantage of any of the EDC? We're seeing comments about them handling the portion of loans no longer covered by reserve value. Are you looking at all those numbers? And is it possible you may need that EDC support? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Grant Bradley Fagerheim, Whitecap Resources Inc. - President, CEO & Director [12] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The way we've looked at that, and we have been working directly with EDC on that, we don't think at this particular time it's something that we're going to be needing. We think we've got significant, substantial-enough financial flexibility on our lines. So the liquidity bridge that they're looking at for the 1-year period of time, unless potentially it's reworked at a different cost, our cost of debt is 3.6%. So it's very difficult to take on incremental debt unless it's subordinated, strongly subordinated, but we don't really feel the need to use that -- their debt at this particular time the way they've structured it currently. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Thanh C. Kang, Whitecap Resources Inc. - CFO [13] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yes. No. I would agree with that. And just to note that we have a 4-year committed facility. So it's secured by financial covenants. And so we're not RBL-based lending. We're subject to fluctuations relative to reserves. So our facility here is much more committed than the RBL space. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Josef I. Schachter, Schachter Energy Research Services Inc. - Author & President [14] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Lastly, where is your current production right now? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Grant Bradley Fagerheim, Whitecap Resources Inc. - President, CEO & Director [15] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The current production as of -- we were just over... -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Joel M. Armstrong, Whitecap Resources Inc. - VP of Production & Operations [16] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 72,000. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Grant Bradley Fagerheim, Whitecap Resources Inc. - President, CEO & Director [17] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 72,000. 72,400 or something last week. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Operator [18] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Your next question comes from Dan Healing with The Canadian Press. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Dan Healing, The Canadian Press Ltd. - Reporter [19] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I just had a question about the involuntary shut-ins that you're talking about as storage fills. I'm curious if you can help me out to see what that actually looks like. And also, do you know how much of your production now is going into storage? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Grant Bradley Fagerheim, Whitecap Resources Inc. - President, CEO & Director [20] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sure, Dan. So the involuntary that we're -- there's lots of conversations, lots of discussion on that in the market at this particular time. And it's really the pace of shut-in that will determine, I think, how much ultimately companies are -- might be forced to shut in. If you look in the U.S., they've got a very significant component. And daily, I see that there was another announcement this morning of another 265,000 barrels a day being suspended. In Canada, we're expecting somewhere probably between 1 million to 1.5 million barrels a day being suspended. We're certainly not there at this particular time. But that will -- from an overall perspective, that will be determined by behavior of producers and ultimately have helped design the shape of what the backside of this thing looks like, how long it's going to take for us to come out of this. So we don't know on a -- specific to the storage, we're selling our product as we produce it every day. We've suspended, as we've talked about, 2,000 barrels a day, but we're monetizing our product every day and not putting more, specific to Whitecap production, into storage at this particular time. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Dan Healing, The Canadian Press Ltd. - Reporter [21] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Okay. So when you talk about involuntary storage, that means if you can't find a buyer for your barrel, you just don't produce it. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Grant Bradley Fagerheim, Whitecap Resources Inc. - President, CEO & Director [22] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Correct. Yes. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Operator [23] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Your next question comes from Luke Davis with RBC. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Luke Davis, RBC Capital Markets, Research Division - Analyst [24] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Op costs in Q1 were roughly in line with what you posted through 2019. My understanding was that you were previously anticipating a bit of an increase through 2020. Can you maybe just comment on what might have changed there? And in that same vein to the prior questions, can you comment on whether there are any more levers to pull here as it relates to the current cost structure you're running with? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Thanh C. Kang, Whitecap Resources Inc. - CFO [25] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sorry, what was that first comment there, on the operating relative to Q1 there, Luke? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Luke Davis, RBC Capital Markets, Research Division - Analyst [26] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Q1 was basically in line with 2019. When we've previously spoken, Thanh, my understanding was that you had expected an increase through '20, and that would be prior to making all these adjustments. Can you just maybe comment on what might have changed there and I mean why they were presumably lower than what you would have expected? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Thanh C. Kang, Whitecap Resources Inc. - CFO [27] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yes. A couple of things. I mean, obviously, the ones -- the comments that Joel made in terms of our op cost initiatives that we've taken, we started that kind of late in the first quarter there. So that impacted some of that. Production obviously was higher than what we anticipated. So on a per unit cost, it ended up being lower as well. So those 2 combined really resulted in the better-than-forecast operating costs. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Luke Davis, RBC Capital Markets, Research Division - Analyst [28] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Got it. And then any more levers you can pull in terms of where you are currently? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Joel M. Armstrong, Whitecap Resources Inc. - VP of Production & Operations [29] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- So I mean I don't think this process ever goes away. There's really no finish date. So we'll continue to evaluate our cost structure ongoing. I think we've hit it pretty hard. So I wouldn't expect big changes to that, but the process is never done. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Luke Davis, RBC Capital Markets, Research Division - Analyst [30] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Got it. And then, Grant, just as it relates to the federal aid package, which is obviously focused on ARO, based on your current understanding here, can you just provide your general view and just outline whether there's any benefits to Whitecap and maybe anything you're working on now as it relates to potential ARO reductions? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Joel M. Armstrong, Whitecap Resources Inc. - VP of Production & Operations [31] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- It's Joel here. I think there's been a lot of learnings last couple of days in terms of the structure of this program. We do think there's opportunity for us, and we're going to try to maximize that as best possible. It is our understanding that the program's basically set up at $30,000 maximum per service vendor per project. So we're going to make sure that we have applications in, in place for May 1. We're not sure if the first tranche of $100 million will qualify. At this point in time, we're not sure if we'll qualify for the second tranche of $100 million. But we're certainly hopeful within the $1 billion program that Whitecap will qualify. And we're going to do everything we can to maximize it. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Operator [32] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Your next question comes from Juan Jarrah with TD Securities. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Juan Jarrah, TD Securities Equity Research - Research Analyst [33] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yes. Just further to the previous question. Can you give us a breakdown of CapEx, production OpEx, et cetera, for the remaining 3 quarters? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Grant Bradley Fagerheim, Whitecap Resources Inc. - President, CEO & Director [34] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sure. From a CapEx, JJ, we're -- it's explosive. It's about $5 million, somewhere between $4 million to $5 million -- $4 million to $6 million a month. So -- and that really is not on capital. The majority of that -- over 50% of that comes under our CO2 purchases for the current sequestration programs in Southeast Saskatchewan. So from a capital perspective, we really have nominal amount of capital. We had previously put out $210 million and have been able to reduce that back to $190 million for the year. So from a capital perspective, we're not expecting much more. And what were the other components that you would... -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Juan Jarrah, TD Securities Equity Research - Research Analyst [35] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yes. Just -- yes. I mean, for example, the production, now that you've got to 2,000 shut-in, is that shut-in right now? I know it's not material, but just trying to get our numbers tight. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Grant Bradley Fagerheim, Whitecap Resources Inc. - President, CEO & Director [36] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yes. Yes. It is shut in right now. And as I say, that's why we've altered our forecast from what we were previously, 67,000 to 69,000 barrels a day that we put out on March 17 to now 65,000 to 67,000 barrels a day. So we've altered it by the 2,000 barrels a day that we shut in. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Juan Jarrah, TD Securities Equity Research - Research Analyst [37] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Got you. And then on the OpEx front, obviously, production is decreasing. Like you are -- you found $42 million of savings for the year. Just trying to think how that factors quarter-over-quarter. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Thanh C. Kang, Whitecap Resources Inc. - CFO [38] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yes. So I mean it's relatively flat in terms of what our operating costs are. I mean our expectation is that we're about $300 million on a full year basis for operating costs there. It's going to run, on average, somewhere between $24 million to $25 million on a monthly basis. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Operator [39] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- (Operator Instructions) And at this time, gentlemen, we have no further questions registered. Please proceed. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Grant Bradley Fagerheim, Whitecap Resources Inc. - President, CEO & Director [40] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- As we conclude this quarterly earnings call, we wish you -- each of you good health, safe social distancing and an optimistic attitude. All the best and until next time. Bye for now. Thank you. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Operator [41] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Thank you, sir. Ladies and gentlemen, this does indeed conclude your conference call for today. Once again, thank you for attending. And at this time, we do ask that you please disconnect your lines. Have a great day.