World Oil: In Permian basin, jitters mount that a bust is near

Steve Pruett has seen more than his share of booms in three decades in the oil business. None, though, as strange as the one gripping the Permian basin right now…. “Oil men are innately optimistic,” he said, “and sometimes our optimism is our own worst enemy.”…By this point, “we’ve given up all of our profit margin,” he said, referring to the industry. “We’re over-capitalized, we’re over-drilling and, if prices don’t rise, we might be facing a double dip in drilling.” […]

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WA Post: The United States of oil and gas

Since 2010, the United States has been in an oil-and-gas boom. In 2015, domestic production was at near-record levels, and we now produce more petroleum products than any other country in the world. President Trump said he plans to double down on the oil and gas industry, lifting regulations and drilling on federal land. Here is the state of the petroleum extraction industry that the new administration will inherit. […]

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Watt’s Up With That: A Tale of Two Sigmoids

There are dozens of different mathematical constructions that yield bell-shaped curves. The “Hubbert” or “Peak Oil” curve is actually a special case of a class of s-shaped functions called sigmoids. While most sigmoid functions begin and end at different values, Hubbert’s curve is constrained to begin and end at zero by the formula and boundary conditions imposed that represent a perfect mathematical translation of Hubbert’s worldview. The curve reflects a battle between two competing forces or trends – one for growth and one for contraction – where the balance shifts between the two along the way. […]

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Article (Alberta Oil Magazine): The Best Little Oil Companies in Canada

Date of Source: 21 Oct 2016

Summary:
Fifteen years ago it was common knowledge that oil and gas production in North America was in terminal decline. After decades of exploration, all of the profitable onshore oil and gas in Canada and the U.S. had already been discovered… While the attention of the majors was elsewhere, close to home something happened. Small companies run by entrepreneurial management teams cracked the code on vast amounts of oil and gas located here in North America. […]

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Seeking Alpha: Imperial Oil — Levered Exposure To Oil Prices At A Fair Price

Image source: Imperial Oil Corp. Corporate Overview – Winter-Spring 2017. pg. 5

  • Imperial Oil Corp is a rationally integrated enterprise — assessing any given business segment in isolation ignores synergies which are especially important during the lower half of the commodities cycle.
  • The upstream business segment, by far the largest in terms of capital investment, is heavily exposed to Canadian oil sands projects which are marginal in the current commodity prices environment.
  • Yet, records profits from the downstream and chemical business segments demonstrate how they have benefited from cost advantaged feeds.
  • In the current commodity price environment, IMO’s common shares are likely fairly valued $22 to $32 per share; there is significant uncertainty in that estimate.
  • Given non-compelling valuation and risks, I do not hold the equity outright. However, I believe that call options may provide favorable risk-reward characteristics given their leverage to crude oil prices.

Read the full article on Seeking Alpha → 

Seeking Alpha: Cenovus’ Consolidation Offers Counter-Cyclical Upside

Source: CVE Corporation Presentation. Cenovus announces acquisition of Western Canadian assets. Pg 4. 29 Mar 2017. available: http://www.cenovus.com/invest/docs/2017/acquisition-western-canadian-assets-presentation.pdf

  • Cenovus’ expanded asset base, following the $C17.7 Bn acquisition from ConocoPhillips, will be largely of high quality and is expected to more than double 2017 production.
  • Its oil sands position is not terribly exciting in terms of growth, but it does promise commodity-price resilient cash flows which can be used to fund future growth.
  • The companies largely expanded position in the Canadian Deep Basin may be largely under-recognized as a leading foothold in what my be aptly called “The Permian in the North”.
  • Pre-acquisition, I posit that the current stock price of around $10 moderately undervalues the company and largely discounts potential commodity price driven and/or geological upside.
  • Given the dearth of apparent opportunity in the upstream oil and gas space, CVE is favorite yet long idea of 2017.

Read the full article on Seeking Alpha → 

Drilling For Value, Appendix B: Commodity Price Forecasts (or, why commodity price forecasts are mostly worthless)

Summary

  • Equity investments into upstream oil and gas companies are largely levered commodity price plays; long-term total returns barely offset the carry costs of taking a long position in oil futures.
  • There are multitudes of ways by which experts seek to forecast future commodities prices; most don’t work.
  • The failure of forecasting should not be surprising if the Efficient Market Hypothesis is even partly correct.
  • Even barring market efficiency, behavioral models provide ample reason for the widespread inaccuracy of forecasts.
  • The idea that commodities prices — including oil — follow a random walk is both overwhelmingly supported by evidence and practical.

Figure 1: Black Gold

Source: Andy Thomas. Black Gold

Evidence overwhelmingly supports the notion that investments into upstream oil and gas producers are basically levered commodity price plays. This, and the fact that commodities producers are price-takers, indicates that petroleum economics are overly levered to commodities prices. It should follow, therefore, that an ability to accurately predict petroleum prices could result in advantageous market timing — i.e. investments in the right petroleum producing assets during the right times in the cycle. As a result of this ostensible potential for riches, prognosticators have devised multitudes of ways to forecast oil prices. Unfortunately, most of these efforts fall short of useful — no known forecasting approach, not even futures strip prices, significantly outperforms the assumption that price evolutions are random walks using out-of-sample data. This failure is not surprising, however, if we are to believe even a watered-down form of the Efficient Market Hypothesis (EMH).

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Drilling For Value, Appendix C: Discounting Theory and Practice

Summary

  • Discount rates are a cornerstone of modern valuation methods for discounting the value of expected future cash flows.
  • Upstream valuation professional systemically utilize elevated discount rates well in excess of rational expectations for long-run capital growth.
  • The use of elevated discount rates may have roots in Modern Portfolio Theory, heuristics regarding the aggregation of well-level economics, and as proxies for high expected rates of depletion.
  • Re-calibration of investors’ rational expectations indicates that lower discount rates may be more appropriate for evaluating long-run returns.
  • Discount rates are simply a means by which to equate dollars in different time-periods — any further deliberation is likely to suffer from diminishing returns.

Figure 1: Sunburst – Pumping UntSource: Greg Evans. Sunburst – Pumping Unit. Art Gallery of Greg Evans

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Drilling For Value, Appendix A: Energetic Factors of Resource Economics

  • Energy Return on Energy Invested (EROEI) is a popular metric for resource quality which attempts to cut through economic distortions caused by taxes, subsidies, and current market conditions.
  • Energetic factors of resource intensity and efficiency also have practical applications for estimating long-term resource project economics.
  • Declining EROEIs, which have been hyper-politicized by peak oil enthusiasts, have been counteracted by gains in full-cycle energy efficiencies.
  • Though other energetic measures of return incorporate financial metrics, EROEI is still the purest key performance metric which exposes an energy resource’s underlying and long-term profit potential.


Source: Frank Reilly (Illustrator). Oilfield WorkerLiberty Magazine. 10 March 1945.

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Motley Fool: 5 Point Checklist for Investing in Big Oil

Date of Source: 26 Jun 2016

Summary:
In the stormy seas of the energy market, Big Oil companies have been one of the few beacons of stability. As oil prices declined more than half over the past couple of years, companies with exposure to every facet of the oil and gas value chain saw declines ranging from 10% to 30%. To some, this stability and the traditionally generous dividends have made for a compelling investment thesis, but actually getting to know and understand the complex world of Big Oil companies is far from simple. […]

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