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Update On The World’s Most Exciting Oil Play: Interview With Scot Evans

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·27 min read
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As Recon Africa (TSXV:RECO; OTC:RECAF) continues to de-risk what we believe is the most exciting onshore oil play the world has seen in decades, we had a chance to speak with the CEO Scot Evans about the results so far and why the management team are so excited about what they have discovered to date. To get a better understanding of Recon Africa’s incredible story you might want to look through some previous interviews with founder Craig Steinke and legendary geologist Dan Jarvie.

Highlights of the interview with Scot:

• Why Recon Africa might have drilled into a reservoir with their first well
• A detailed look at what they have found
• Why the oil/gas shows are associated with rocks that point to conventional reservoirs
• Why the mud logging results are so accurate
• A look at the 52 Intervals of oil in the first well with 3 zones of thickness (possible reservoirs)
• Why the company expects more great results in the future
• When Core Lab results can be expected
• Why the first 2 wells vastly exceeded their expectations
• Why their second well wasn’t drilled to the permitted depth
• How the 2D seismic imaging is progressing and what to expect
• Recon Africa’s current cash position

Update on Recon Africa’s ESG plan

James Stafford: Great news out last week. I think a lot of people in the industry will be very excited with the release and especially Jarvie’s analysis and the mudlogging report. It’s something I imagine your potential partners will be looking at very closely.

This leads onto my first question. Can you tell us about mud logging? What it is, what it shows and why it is accurate?

Scot Evans: Mud logging is actually sample logging of the rocks being drilled and a continuous measuring of the gas, all being transported to the surface by the drilling fluid system. The mud logging unit is staffed by experienced geologists, and the company we used, Horizon (a US company,) has been in this business for 25 years and has extensive African experience.

As part of the sample description process, samples are described every 3 meters, and any samples that have evidence of oil (termed “shows”) are described, and then the oil itself is extracted and rigorously evaluated for quality. This process is documented by Horizon and the description is available on the ReconAfrica website. There were 52 intervals with shows in this first well.

The gas is sampled directly from the flowline and sent to a chromatograph which measures the amount of gas and some basic properties. All of this data is captured digitally and is what was analyzed in the Dan Jarvie report.

JS: When I look at Jarvie’s report it appears to me that you have drilled into a very thick zone of oil. Am I correct in assuming this? And if this is the case could you tell us more about your findings and beliefs?

SE: The data from the sample logging clearly shows the presence of a conventional petroleum system with many light oil shows, which is what we were looking to establish in the first two wells. This strongly supports a comprehensive 2D seismic program to now more definitively evaluate this new basin. And yes there are 3 intervals of some thickness. In conventional oil and gas systems petroleum migrates along faults, fractures, or porous rock from a source to a reservoir or trap. These intervals in the 6-2 can represent either residual oil, ie oil left behind in migration through to a reservoir, or reservoired oil, that could be potentially produced. While we are not able to delineate which of these we have yet, we certainly have a conventional petroleum system, charged with light oil.

Sample of the light oil found in well 1. Source Recon Africa

JS: Finding a conventional petroleum system right off the bat, is like finding a needle in a haystack. It took many wells in other new basins to get to where you are with these first two wells. Was this a fluke or is this basin so full of oil that there are many more “flukes” like this expected in the future?

SE: It is true that in other areas we have worked there have been more ‘dry holes’ ie no evidence of hydrocarbons whatsoever, before the first well with shows. Moving forward, the 2D seismic will build on this data and determine what the rest of the basin looks like and guidance to reservoirs. It’s important to remember, these first two wells provide a positive initial evaluation of a very small part of our 8,500,000 acreage position, we expect there is a lot more to come.

JS: What can you tell us about the first 2 wells. I saw Jarvie’s report and the mudlogging report, but they are technical. Can you tell us separately about both of these wells and what you think you have found in a non-technical way?

SE: I can only speak about the first well, as the data has to be complete, submitted to the government and accepted before we can release it. The second well data is not yet complete and is being assembled for submittal.

From the first well what we do see is three main intervals with a variety of oil shows, and associated gas shows in several of these intervals. The upper interval is sandstone/siltstone, and second interval limestone and dolomite with some siltstone, the lower one mainly limestone. The upper zone has matrix porosity, the second zone matrix and fracture porosity, the lower zone low porosity. The oil and gas appear migrated, so not generated in place, consistent with a conventional petroleum system. Porosity is the storage component of a reservoir, ie where fluids and gases would be resident. Matrix porosity is comparable to the holes in a sponge, while fracture porosity is open cracks in a more brittle rock. Carbonate reservoirs can have both types of porosity, sandstones tend to have just matrix.

JS: It seems a few investors were hoping for the results from Core Labs. Could you let us know when you expect to have these back and what you think they might show?

SE: The Core Labs data won’t tell us anything additional regarding the presence orabsence of a petroleum system but will provide critical data around the rocks themselves that will calibrate the analysis of the wireline logs. Given the delays in the global transportation networks resulting from COVID it took quite a bit more time to ship the samples from the well in Namibia to Core Labs in Houston. The analysis we are doing is quite in depth as these are the first wells in the basin (or anywhere near it), so it will take time. We expect most results by late August or early September.

JS: One of the highlights from your press release was, The Company has now completed all drilling components required to satisfy the work program requirements for an extension of the exploration period on PEL 73.” What does this mean exactly?

SE: As part of our lease obligation, we have a specific work program that called for the drilling of two stratigraphic test wells. The 6-1 and 6-2 fulfill this obligation

JS: In the press release, you said, The results we have achieved from these first two wells have significantly exceeded our expectations.” How exactly have they done this? What were you expecting and what have you found? What do you think this means for the rest of the basin?

SE: For the first wells in a new basin, you start out with a regional geologic interpretation and project that to identify your first well locations. The goals of the wells are to 1) establish what the rock column looks like, 2) to prove the presence of a hydrocarbon system and 3) see if there are any reservoir or source rocks. Having some shows was anticipated, but the number and variety of shows exceeded our expectations. What this means for the rest of the basin is, knowing the basin produces hydrocarbons, we can go forward confidently investing in a 2D seismic program, followed by additional wells to establish reservoirs.

JS: Could you please simplify the following statement and what it actually means for investors, Not only have we encountered a significant number of oil and gas shows over multiple potential zones, they are associated with zones of fracture and matrix porosity. Consistent with a conventional oil and gas play, analysis of the geochemical data from these wells indicates the hydrocarbons are migrated from off structure sources.”

SE: This means that, in this first well the oil/gas shows are associated with rocks with some form of porosity, and not source rocks. Consistent with conventional reservoirs, the oil and gas has migrated to and perhaps through these rocks from a source rock likely a distance away where the hydrocarbons were generated.

JS: Doug Milham, the CEO of Horizon Well Logging said, Our sample logging data and analysis has identified significant intervals of oil and natural gas in each of the two wells drilled, with varying characteristics from multiple zones. This is an exciting oil and gas exploration project with world-class potential.” What does he mean by significant intervals of oil and gas? As in your previous press releases you said there were showings….

SE: The fact there are 3 discrete continuous intervals or zones of shows is significant, in contrast, for example, to them being randomly distributed in the wellbore. The show reports online describe samples from 52 of these intervals, and Dan Jarvie’s chart illustrates these zones.

JS: I was very interested with Dan Jarvie’s Distribution of Hydrocarbon Shows chart in your press release. Could you tell us exactly what he is showing here? Zone 1 and Zone 2 seem very exciting, but I’m not a geochemist so would appreciate you explaining it all to me.

SE: There is a detailed summary of Dan’s report on the ReconAfrica website, but it basically illustrates 3 things:

  • The vertical distribution of the light oil shows, ie the three main intervals or zones.

  • Various ratios of the oil and gas components and their relationship to total organic carbon. The results indicate that the hydrocarbons are migrated, as opposed to generated in place.

  • An initial summary of the corresponding interpretation of rock type, and porosity system.

Zone 1 and 2 are interesting in the show quality, the indications of the hydrocarbons being migrated, and the initial association with potential reservoir.

JS: So number one, you have good shows of light oil, which Jarvie originally predicted. This is most important to achieve commercial success. Secondarily you have shows of a wide variety of natural gas. I’m told the gas concentration levels in the mud logs aren’t high. At this stage is this important?

SE: It’s true the first wells have encountered not only oil, but a wide variety of gas, which is positive. With regards to the gas concentration levels (measured in parts per million) if we have drilled through a migration pathway, the gas is much more mobile than oil and it would expect it to be low. As well, because we are drilling into unknown rock in a new basin, these wells were drilled “over balanced” or with heavy, viscous drilling fluid which can prevent accurate analysis of gas concentration. On average we anticipate higher concentrations of gas when it is trapped and has accumulated in reservoirs, although there are very productive conventional oil basins where the gas content is quite low to zero.

JS: The press release states that the 6-2 well and 6-1 well reached total depths of 2,294 meters (7,526 feet) and 2,780 meters (9,121 feet respectively. This compares to stated permitted depths of 12,500ft. Why were the wells not drilled to permitted depth?

SE: The wells were permitted to the conservative maximum depth that the drill rig could achieve. As the first wells in this basin and the nearest control well over 375km away, we wanted to be able to drill as deep as we could safely and not ask for new permits. For the 6-2 well, based on initial mapping we thought we would be on a structure, and as the well was drilled it became clear that this was correct. The well gave indications of crossing geologic faults at certain points, which can cause drilling issues if not correctly managed. After drilling through the major intervals of hydrocarbon shows, the frequency of potential faults began to increase, so to be safe we called an early total depth. The well is cemented in a state that will enable us to re-enter, for example to conduct a production test. After post well review of the wireline data our interpretation of faulting was proven correct. With the 2D seismic we will be able to see the faults in lateral extent.

For the 6-1 well, the situation was similar, although as per our prognoses the well is off the structure, so we were able to drill deeper. As the data has not been fully assembled and transmitted to the Government, we can’t comment beyond this at the moment. The bottom line is that there is no prize to drilling to a permitted total depth, the critical thing is to manage the drilling operation safely and efficiently while getting the data that we set out to.

JS: How is the 2D coming along? You are getting information every day from this and I was wondering if you can tell us what has been interpreted so far?

SE: The seismic program is on schedule, with target completion of data acquisition by the end of September. We just finished our test lines and are now shooting our first line in production mode. We will also shoot vertical seismic profiles in each of the two wells, to provide an exact tie to the seismic line that connects them. This will enable accurate correlation of the zones we have found in the first two wells, to the new 2D seismic data being acquired and additional wells we plan to drill across the basin.

JS: From your release it looks like you have plans to drill 4 more wells from here until June 2022. Could you let me know your current cash position and if you have enough on hand to complete these wells, meet your ESG obligations and finish the 2D program?

SE: ReconAfrica has $60M CAD in its treasury, well enough for the seismic program, additional wells and our ESG commitment.

JS: How are your ESG initiatives coming on? Can you tell us more about the work you are doing in Namibia to help the community and environment?

SE: As you know, the Kavango region largely suffers from generational poverty, so there are many local residents now experiencing benefits, on a daily basis, from an increase in economic activity. ReconAfrica is developing its ESG efforts into a fully diversified ESG platform with specific emphasis on higher education for the children, much better access to fresh drinking water, carbon neutrality and the protection of wildlife. The Company will be providing significantly more detail on its ESG progress shortly.

JS: My last and possibly most important question. Is Dan Jarvie still happy?

SE: Dan is very much aware it’s still early stages in developing this basin but, he predicted light oil and we’ve proven light oil….Dan’s happy.

JS: Thanks for your time Scot. We look forward to seeing what happens over the next few months.

Here are some other companies for readers to look at that are looking to capitalize on rising oil prices:

For over a century, TotalEnergies (NYSE:TTE) has been one of the most respected corporations in the world and we feel that it is our duty to provide you with some insight as to why this is so.

For many years, Total has been providing customers with an array of products for their everyday needs - from food to fuel, medicine to cosmetics and more - while keeping these items at affordable prices without compromising quality. In addition, they have also helped shape societies around the world by investing in sustainable development projects such as solar energy farms or wind turbines which minimizes CO2 emissions by reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

From oil and gas to renewables and beyond, TotalEnergies is setting itself up nicely for the long term. And thanks to its diversification, it has outperformed other pure oil majors. It is also staying ahead of the looming climate crisis by boosting its renewable assets. And it has a stellar ESG record, as well. From diversity and societal progression and workplace safety to its commitment to reducing its own carbon footprint, TotalEnergies is making major waves in this new market climate.

Eni (NYSE:E) is one of the largest global energy companies, employing over 69,000 people in about 130 countries. They are committed to a sustainable future for all and strive to be an example of best practice in their industry by reducing emissions and improving efficiency. The company has made significant strides towards this goal, including adopting efficient LED lighting solutions that can save up to 50% on energy costs.

Eni is also dedicated to developing new sources of renewable energies such as wind power projects across Europe which will generate enough electricity for 1 million homes without generating any CO2 emissions or other pollutants with no risk at all for the environment. To date, they have installed more than 2 gigawatts (GW) worth of wind power capacity worldwide.

Eni described 2020 as a “year of war”, regarding the energy crisis experienced in the face of COVID-1. But it may be too soon to see the issues faced last year as a thing of the past. Eni is committing to lower the price of oil at which the company breaks even going into 2021, as a means of tackling the uncertainty of the oil economy in the coming months. Francesco Gattei, CFO at Eni, stated that “Volatility is growing every year.”, highlighting the need to be prepared for the energy demand of the future. In fact, Eni has now set out a plan to lower its greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050, leveraging natural gas as a major tool in its arsenal.

Petrobras (NYSE:PBR) is one of the largest oil and gas companies in Brazil. It operates mostly in South America, but also has offices around the world. Petrobras is a publicly traded company with significant ownership by the Brazilian government. The company's main products are crude oil, natural gas liquids (NGL), liquefied petroleum gases (LPG) and petrochemical feedstocks.

Petrobras is currently focused on developing its pre-salt operations. Those upstream projects being approved for development must have a breakeven price of $35 per Brent or less. Brazil’s national oil company has budgeted capital spending for exploration and production activities of $46.5 billion from 2021 to 2025. While the pandemic has hit Brazil’s oil industry causing production to fall because of savage budget cuts and well shut-ins, it appears to have done no material long-term damage. Demand for Petrobras’ low sulfur content fuel is firm and will grow because of the global push to significantly reduce emissions, which will ultimately make Petrobras even more valuable over time.

ConocoPhillips Company (NYSE:COP) is one of the world's largest independent exploration and production companies. The company has operations in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia Pacific. Headquartered in Houston Texas, it was founded by John K. Conoco in 1890 as American Oil Co., which later became known as Phillips Petroleum Company before merging with Chevron Corporation to form ConocoPhillops on November 30th 2002.

As the largest pure-play upstream oil company, ConocoPhillips has performed relatively well in this depressed market, generating ample free cash flow and returning a good chunk of it to shareholders. Unlike many of its peers who continued to expand aggressively during the shale boom, COP has taken several steps to lower costs and fortify its balance sheet leading to one of the best cash positions in the oil patch.

The upstream giant has been gradually offloading non-core assets, including the sale of its North Sea oil and gas assets for $2.7B and the planned sale of its Australian assets for $1.4B. Its asset portfolio, however, remains healthy. ConocoPhillips has been particularly bullish on oil demand outlook in 2021, and it was one of the few companies which did not partake in the mass-layoffs seen in the industry last year.

Investors should not ignore the shale patch, either. Pioneer Natural Resources (NYSE:PXD) is an American oil and gas production company. Founded in 1920, it has a long history of experience with both exploration and production. The company has been on the Fortune 500 list since 1990 and was ranked number 188 in 2017. Pioneer's headquarters are located in Irving, Texas.

Pioneer Natural Resources is known for its expertise in horizontal drilling techniques which have allowed them to access new sources of oil that were previously difficult to reach such as shale formations

Pioneer’s operations are concentrated primarily in two areas: West Texas, where it has developed one of the most significant unconventional resource plays in North America, the Eagle Ford shale; and Southern California, where it has assembled a large position onshore Los Angeles basin. Pioneer Natural Resources was founded in 1954 by Ross Shaw who had long been involved with land leasing for drilling purposes. With his son James as president, they drilled their first well near Big Lake, Texas.

Enterprise Products Partners (NYSE:EPD) is the largest oil and gas pipeline company in North America, with a vast network of pipelines that transport crude oil, gas liquids, natural gas and refined products. The company has over 11 billion barrels of storage capacity at its terminals across the United States.

In addition to its pipeline operations, Enterprise Products Partners also operates as an energy marketing and trading company for both U.S. domestic markets and international markets outside North America.

Enterprise Products is the top transporter of natural gas liquids (NGLs) and also owns the most NGL fractionation capacity in the United States, as well as dock space for exports. Enterprise Products is the largest midstream MLP in the country. Enterprise has clearly read the signs of the times and has begun to work with partners to scale back its project backlog. In the past, EP was able to weather the normal industry headwinds thanks to robust cash coverage and manageable leverage. Unfortunately, Covid-19 has been anything but your average downturn, and EP has been forced to seriously cut back on Capex.

Enbridge Inc.(NYSE:ENB, TSX:ENB) is a Canadian multinational energy company with operations in the United States, Eastern Canada, and Central America. The Company operates three primary business segments: Natural gas distribution, Natural gas transmission pipelines & Liquids pipeline transportation. Enbridge's strategy includes growth opportunities through acquisitions and organic development of natural gas infrastructure to meet customer needs as they develop their resource potentials.

The Company also provides equipment installation services for natural gas facilities; distribution systems for electricity generation from renewable sources; transportation of crude oil by rail and trucking; storage of liquids such as gasoline, diesel fuel or other petroleum products at terminals before delivery to customers or end-users; management of power plants that generate electricity from hydroelectricity sources - all across North America.

Enbridge is in a unique position as oil and gas stages its 2021 comeback. As one of the more potentially undervalued companies in the sector, it could be set to win big this year. But that’s only if it can overcome some of the challenges in its path. Most specifically, its Line 3 project which has faced scrutiny from environmentalists.

Canadian Natural Resources (NYSE:CNQ, TSX:CNQ) is a Canadian company that explores for natural gas, crude oil and natural gas liquids in Canada's three major petroleum producing regions: Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan. The Company has operations across Western Canada.

Canadian Natural Resources was founded in 1913 by an Albertan farmer who discovered natural gas on his land near Medicine Hat. They have been involved since their inception with the development of the energy industry in Western Canada through exploration and production of petroleum products. Today they are one of the top ten largest producers of crude oil from western Canada.

In 2020, Canadian Natural Resources was an outlier in the industry. Unlike many of its peers, Canadian Natural Resources kept its dividend intact after swinging to a loss for the first half of the year, while Canada's producers are scaling back production by around 1 million bpd amid low oil prices and demand. Though Canadian Natural Resources kept its dividend, it withdrew its production guidance for 2020, however. It also said it would curtail some production at high-cost conventional projects in North America and oil sands operations and carry out planned turnaround activities at oil sands projects in the second half of 2020.

Suncor Energy (TSX:SU) is a Canadian energy company with operations around the world. They have invested in diversifying their portfolio and are now involved in oil refining, retail gasoline sales, natural gas pipeline distribution, and solar photovoltaic manufacturing. Suncor has also made investments to help reduce emissions from its own operations.

Suncor was founded in 1918 and has been growing ever since. With many years of success under their belt they plan to continue expanding into new markets globally while remaining committed to safety and operating excellence as well as doing our part for the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions at all levels of our business.

is a Canadian multinational energy company, headquartered in Calgary, Alberta. It operates Canada’s largest oil sands project - Suncor's Oil Sands Operations. The company is Canada's most profitable and one of the world's largest integrated energy companies with its operations spanning North America and 20 other countries around the world. With over $120 billion in assets, it has more than 10 million acres of land holdings for exploration and production across six continents.

Suncor has adopted a number of high-tech solutions for finding, pumping, storing, and delivering its resources. Not only is it big in the oil sector, however, it is a leader in renewable energy. Recently, the company invested $300 million in a wind farm located in Alberta.

MEG Energy Corp (TSX:MEG) is a Canadian energy company that provides natural gas and renewable power products and services to customers in Canada, the United States, Europe, and Asia. The company operates in three segments: Pipeline Services; Power Generation Services; Renewable Power Production. MEG has been able to grow their pipeline business by engaging with key stakeholders on regulatory fronts across North America as well as through expansion of their existing pipeline network.

The company’s large proven resources and their cutting-edge technology make MEG a promising company for investors looking to get in to the promising oil sands in Alberta

Gibson Energy (TSX:GEI)
is an energy company that specializes in the production, transmission and distribution of natural gas. Gibson Energy has been providing reliable service to their customers for over 100 years. The company currently employs more than 1,400 people across North America.

Gibson has a long history in Canada’s oil and gas game, going back to 1953. The company has a diverse portfolio which includes transportation, storage, processing, marketing and distribution of oil, condensates, oilfield waste, refined products and natural gas. With Gibson’s huge array of assets and its multi-platform sales strategies, it’s hedged a lot of the risk for investors in an inherently high-risk, high-reward industry.

Pembina Pipeline Corp. (TSX:PPL) is a company that has been around for more than 50 years and was the first pipeline company in Canada to offer gas transmission services. They are now one of the largest natural gas transmission companies in North America with an annual throughput capacity of almost 66 billion cubic feet per day. This blog post will discuss Pembina's recent acquisition by Enbridge Inc., their financial performance, and how they view long-term growth opportunities.

**IMPORTANT! BY READING OUR CONTENT YOU EXPLICITLY AGREE TO THE FOLLOWING. PLEASE READ CAREFULLY**

Forward-Looking Statements. Statements contained in this document that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements that involve various risks and uncertainty affecting the business of Recon. All estimates and statements with respect to Recon’s operations, its plans and projections, timing of drilling, other exploration and results, size of potential oil reserves, comparisons to other oil producing fields, oil prices, recoverable oil, production targets, production and other operating costs and likelihood of oil recoverability are forward-looking statements under applicable securities laws and necessarily involve risks and uncertainties including, without limitation: risks associated with oil and gas exploration, including drilling and other exploration activities, timing of reports, development, exploitation and production, geological risks, marketing and transportation, availability of adequate funding, volatility of commodity prices, imprecision of reserve and resource estimates, environmental risks, competition from other producers, government regulation, dates of commencement of production and changes in the regulatory and taxation environment. Actual results may vary materially from the information provided in this document, and there is no representation that the actual results realized in the future will be the same in whole or in part as those presented herein. Other factors that could cause actual results to differ from those contained in the forward-looking statements are also set forth in filings that Recon and its technical analysts have made. We undertake no obligation, except as otherwise required by law, to update these forward-looking statements except as required by law.

Exploration for hydrocarbons is a highly speculative venture necessarily involving substantial risk. Recon's future success will depend on its ability to develop its current properties and on its ability to discover resources that are capable of commercial production. However, there is no assurance that Recon's future exploration and development efforts will result in the discovery or development of commercial accumulations of oil and natural gas. In addition, even if hydrocarbons are discovered, the costs of extracting and delivering the hydrocarbons to market and variations in the market price may render uneconomic any discovered deposit. Geological conditions are variable and unpredictable. Even if production is commenced from a well, the quantity of hydrocarbons produced inevitably will decline over time, and production may be adversely affected or may have to be terminated altogether if Recon encounters unforeseen geological conditions. Adverse climatic conditions at such properties may also hinder Recon's ability to carry on exploration or production activities continuously throughout any given year.

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