WTI Futures and Inventories

In this post we address why the shift in oil futures from contango pricing to backwardation is a bearish sign for those in crude oil storage.

Current Regulatory Environment Affecting the Oil and Gas Industry

As business valuation experts, we have to consider the outlook for the economy, industry, and business in every valuation; therefore, we pay attention to the oil and gas regulatory environment to assess what it means for our clients.  Given the new administration, there is much to consider.

5 Takeaways from NARO Appalachia’s Annual Conference

Taryn Burgess recently attended the National Association of Royalty Owners (NARO) Appalachia Chapter Annual Conference in White Sulfur Springs, West Virginia.  Over the two day conference, speakers addressed many topics including certain aspects of lease agreements, current legislation affecting mineral owners, clean water solutions, clean energy programs, legal issues affecting mineral owners, midstream and storage development, and more. Here is an overview of five key takeaways from the conference.

Held (or Held Up?) by Production

Depending on which side of an oil and gas negotiation one is on, Held By Production (HBP) provisions can be a favorable, or unfavorable, value contributor. We discuss the concept and provide helpful information for mineral owners to consider.

How to Use Reserve Reports When Determining Fair Market Value

Last week, we analyzed the SEC’s $6.2 million settlement with a Big 4 audit firm relating to auditing failures associated with Miller Energy Resources, an oil and gas company with activities in the Appalachian region of Tennessee and in Alaska. The SEC order determines that the Big 4 audit firm did not properly use the reserve reports conclusion of PV-10 (present value at 10%).  This post considers the proper use of reserve reports and risk adjustment factors when determining fair market value.

$475 Million Bargain Purchase Leads to a SEC Settlement

Originally published on Mercer Capital’s Financial Reporting Blog, Lucas Parris analyzed the SEC’s $6.2 million settlement with a Big 4 audit firm relating to auditing failures associated with Miller Energy Resources, an oil and gas company with activities in the Appalachian region of Tennessee and in Alaska.

Oil and Gas Investors Note Move Away From Contango

The movement in the future spread away from a contango environment and toward backwardation is positive from a supply and demand perspective. Expectations are a backwardation environment will move crude oil prices higher. However, the exact cause of this change is unknown. While this shift is good news for the industry, company specific risk and investor’s fickle attitudes create volatile equity markets.

Corporate Finance in 30 Minutes Whitepaper

Travis W. Harms, senior vice president of Mercer Capital, wrote a series of whitepapers that focused on demystifying corporate finance for board members and shareholders. In this whitepaper, he has distilled the fundamental principles of corporate finance into an accessible and non-technical primer. Structured around the three key decisions of capital structure, capital budgeting, and dividend policy, this whitepaper is designed to assist directors and shareholders without a finance background to make relevant and meaningful contributions to the most consequential financial decisions all companies must make. Mercer Capital’s goal with this whitepaper is to give directors and shareholders a vocabulary and conceptual framework for thinking about strategic corporate finance decisions, allowing them to bring their perspectives and expertise to the discussion.

The Fair Market Value of Oil and Gas Reserves

In case you missed it, this week are rerunning a consistently popular post.

Oil and gas assets represent the majority of value of an E&P company. The Oil and Gas Financial Journal describes reserves as “a measurable value of a company’s worth and a basic measure of its life span.” Thus, understanding the fair market value of a company’s PDP, PDNP, and PUDs is key to understanding the fair market value of the Company.

Risk and Return: Working Interests and Royalty Interests

When valuing mineral interests, it is important to consider the nuances of the each type of mineral interest. Given that risk and asset values are indirectly related, it is important to keep in mind the various risk factors which pertain to the mineral interest. We’ll begin by examining the various risks surrounding both types of interests.

E&P: What We Learned from 1st Quarter Earnings

The first quarter of 2017 was productive and active for upstream E&P but the change in market capitalizations of many oil and gas companies does not match the reported increase in earnings and production estimates. Looking at our universe of energy companies in the E&P space, over 70% beat earnings estimates. This statistic held true no matter if the energy company was a global integrated operator or a pure upstream producer. To provide a flavor of the attitude, we selected the two largest publicly traded energy companies involved in E&P (STO and XOM) as well as six companies with primary operations in the Permian Basin (PXD, CXO, NBL, XEC, FANG, and RSPP) and reviewed the highlights of their latest earnings releases. As summarized in this post, each of these companies exceeded analyst expectations.

Why Aren’t We Talking About the Gulf of Mexico?

Artem Abramov, of Rystad Energy, recently published an article in the Oil and Gas Financial Journal comparing shale and offshore drilling. He claims, the “Gulf of Mexico [is] as important as [the] Permian Basin for U.S. oil production” but it has been overlooked since the advancement of shale gas. The EIA reports that offshore drilling accounts for 17% of total domestic crude oil production. So, why aren’t we talking more about oil and gas production from the Gulf of Mexico (GoM)?

Is Cash Always King?

Travis Harms, CFA, CPA/ ABV, Senior Vice President at Mercer Capital, recently published a blog post on Mercer Capital’s Financial Reporting Blog contemplating the appropriate amount of cash for a company to hold. This topic is especially pertinent to the oil and gas industry, in which 70 companies went bankrupt last year. Now as companies have started to increase capital expenditures again, they must consider how much cash they should keep as a cushion while considering the effect of this low-yielding asset on value.

What Would You Do with $1 Billion?

Less than one month ago investors bet $1 billion on James Hackett, former President and CEO of Anadarko Petroleum Corp. Silver Run Acquisition Corp. II is a blank check company that will leverage James Hackett’s knowledge of the Eagle Ford Shale and Permian Basin to fund an opportunistic acquisition. Silver Run II was created by the Riverstone Holdings LLC, the bank that successfully started the blank check company over a year ago now known as Centennial Resource Production LLC. The original stock sale for Silver Run Acquisition Corp I, which raised $900 million is expected to exceed $1 billion. If the banks managing the deal exercise their options to buy shares, which they generally do, the Company would be tied for the record largest blank-check offering. Before we review the recent uptick in investment in oil and gas blank check companies, we will review the basics of blank check companies and special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs).

Eureka! Observations & Thoughts from the Permian DUG Conference

Last week, Mercer Capital attended the DUG Permian Basin Conference in Fort Worth. It was a solidly attended event hosted by Hart Energy. The session speakers were a mix of mostly company executives and industry analysts. The presentations were tinged with a lot of optimism – centered on the positive and unique economics of the Permian, tempered by (some) cautionary commentary. We will follow on in later posts with some more detail on specifics, but today we want to touch on a few thematic elements: the Permian was the center of the M&A activity in 2016 and will be in 2017, efficiency and productivity gains are helping to fuel activity, and a rise in rig counts will eventually mean rise in costs.

The Wild Goose Chase Is Over

From 2000 to 2005, “concerns that supply could run out and soaring oil prices sent energy companies on a grand, often wildly expensive, chase for new production.” They were investing in multi-billion-dollar projects in the Arctic waters and Kazakhstan’s Captain Sea. A WSJ article titled, “Oil Companies Take Thrifty Bets,” explained that when oil was worth $100 per barrel oil companies had much higher risk tolerance and were able to invest heavily in the exploration of undeveloped land and ocean. But as the price of oil declined and has settled around $50 per barrel, the wild goose chase for oil has come to an end.

A Bright Spot at the Bottom of the Barrel

Asphalt and road oil are used primarily by the construction industry for roofing and waterproofing and for road construction. Asphalt is a byproduct of petroleum refining. During the distillation process of crude oil, asphalt does not boil off and is left as a heavy residue. Generally around 90% of crude is turned into high margin products such as gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and petrochemicals while the other 10% is converted into asphalt and other low margin products. Petroleum refiners sell asphalt to asphalt product manufacturers who produce retail products such as asphalt paving mixtures and blocks; asphalt emulsions; prepared asphalt and tar roofing and siding products; and roofing asphalts and pitches, coating, and cement.

Thoughts of a Non “Oil Price Guru”

On February 27, 2017 the Wall Street Journal published an article titled “The Rise of a Global Oil-Price Guru”. Simply put, Gary Ross knows anyone and everyone in the energy world. From the west coast of California, east to the Arab Sheiks and beyond, there is no one better connected. While we do not claim to have the same network or prediction abilities as Ross, our predictions for oil prices come with a lower price tag (none at all) than Ross’ more than $50k consulting fee.

Are S&P Energy Stock Valuations Really Crazy Right Now?

A few days ago the Wall Street Journal published an article discussing what the author described as “crazy” stock valuations, and in particular the inflated valuations of oil and gas stocks from the perspective of operating earnings ratios. While we certainly are believers that value is driven by future operating earnings, and that earnings in the energy sector have fallen precipitously since 2014, is this all that determines the market’s pricing of the S&P 500 energy sector? As we reflect on this for a moment, a few additional considerations came to mind that may explain these “crazy” valuations more fully.

Master Limited Partnerships

Master Limited Partnerships (MLPs) are publicly traded partnerships, which reap the tax benefits of a partnership and the liquidity benefits of a public company. In this post, we address both the history of MLPs and considerations when valuing them.

Renewable Fuel Standards and Refiners

Trump’s nominations suggest that the upcoming presidential term will provide a friendly oil and gas environment. While it is unclear what the President-elect’s plan is for the RFS program, it is likely that he will face challenges balancing farm and oil interests.