Author: Mark Young

Upstream M&A in Canada exceeds Cdn$1.5 billion in November 2016

The value of November’s announced M&A deals in the Canadian E&P sector totalled just over Cdn$1.5 billion – a sum almost identical to the equivalent total recorded in October. The full CanOils review of November upstream deal activity can be downloaded here.

This month, however, it was more than just one major deal driving the total.

Seven deals were announced in November for Canadian E&P assets with values of over $50 million, while in October, the $1.4 billion deal between Tourmaline Oil Corp. (TSX:TOU) and Shell almost entirely dominated the total alone. This is a significant increase in activity as we approach the end of the year.

The biggest deal this month saw ARC Resources Ltd. (TSX:ARX) agree to sell its entire asset base in Saskatchewan to Spartan Energy Corp. (TSX:SPE) for Cdn$700 million.

ARC Resources Ltd (Blue) and Spartan Energy Corp. (Red) – Active Working interest southeastern SK wells as of September 30, 2016

ARC Spartan Map1

Source: CanOils M&A Review, November 2016

Saskatchewan assets were in high demand this month, with a few significant deals in the province being announced. Aside from ARC’s Cdn$700 million sale, there were Saskatchewan deals involving Tamarack Valley Energy Ltd. (TSX:TVE), Raging River Exploration Inc. (TSX:RRX) and Northern Blizzard Resources Inc. (TSX:NBZ). Over 4,000 boe/d was also put up for sale in new asset listings this month.

For full details and analysis on all of these deals and listings in Canada’s upstream sector, as well as every deal story involving a Canadian oil and gas company this month, download the CanOils M&A review for November 2016 here.

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Win oilfield service contracts with new DUC data

Oilfield service companies seeking customers can benefit from new data on every “drilled but uncompleted well” (DUC) in Alberta and Saskatchewan – wells that, if left untouched for more than one year after drilling, will incur millions of dollars in LLR-related liabilities.

For each DUC, the relevant data for service companies includes the location, operator, current operating status and historical production of surrounding wells. The data identifies which operators are at greatest risk of contravening LLR regulations if they don’t act on the DUCs. It also identifies other parties that could be indirectly affected by non-compliance.

This new data is part of CanOils Assets module.

Click to download a free report on LLR liabilities, DUCs and benefits to services and supply companies.

Based on LLR regulations in Alberta and Saskatchewan, currently by November 2017 a total of Cdn$330 million of abandonment and reclamation liabilities, covering more than 3,600 licenses, will impact Canada’s E&P players’ LLR positions.

Why? Because LLR liabilities attached to new wells come into effect a year after drilling (see note 1). This is true for all wells – whether they are producing, suspended or uncompleted.

LLR data service co 1.jpg

Source: CanOils Assets (see notes 2 and 3)

One way to offset this LLR risk for Canadian E&P players is to act upon DUCs – by either completing or abandoning/reclaiming them. This opens up a potential multi-million dollar market for oilfield service companies.

The number of DUCs in Canada multiplied during the price downturn, because companies have been reluctant to waste the most prolific production period of any well – the first few months – on low margins. They have been waiting for an increase in price. In some cases, keeping higher numbers of DUCs, and therefore larger values of proven non-producing reserves on the books, may have been deemed necessary to boost attractiveness to potential investors or acquirers.

But DUCs that remain uncompleted one year on from drilling obviously bring no production to the table and have a negative influence on an operator’s LLR position. For more on how service companies can identify opportunities using LLR-related data, click here.

Alberta currently has Cdn$21 million of LLR liabilities attached to DUC wells that will hit the 12-month threshold before the end of March 2017. If an operator has a sufficient quantity of these DUCs to take its LLR rating below 1.0 and does not act upon them, it would need to provide a security deposit or face greater scrutiny from the AER on far more aspects of day-to-day operations. Also, companies in Alberta would be unable to complete any M&A acquisition with a rating below 2.0.

LLR data service co 2.jpg

Source: CanOils Assets (see notes 2 and 3)

The good news for oilfield service companies is that operators can complete and tie-in DUCs to boost overall production and in turn boost LLR ratings, or indeed reduce their LLR liability by abandoning and reclaiming DUCs. The sheer volume of liabilities involved in leaving wells untouched indicates a huge opportunity within the oil services sector.

Click here for more details on how LLR data can unlock more qualified sales targets for service and supply companies in Canada.

Notes:

1) Year-long well exemptions are only applied in Alberta and Saskatchewan, not in British Columbia. CanOils Assets has LLR-related data for every single well in all three provinces. For Alberta wells, the year-long exemption begins at final drilling date. For Saskatchewan, it begins at the spud date.

2) For the purpose of this article, every well without any production in its lifetime that is over a year old or approaching a year old in the given time parameters has been included as a DUC. CanOils Assets has the data and granularity to support far more detailed DUC analysis across the Alberta and Saskatchewan oil and gas markets.

3) The data includes all wells apart from certain well types, which are always exempt from LLR evaluations. In Alberta, this list of well types includes oilsands evaluation wells. For more information on well type exclusions in Alberta, visit the AER.

LLR/LMR terms:

In Alberta, the LLR program is part of the overall LMR (liability management rating) program, which also includes the OWL (oilfield waste liability) and LFP (large facility program). CanOils focuses only on LLR calculations by individual well, but also has the overall corporate LMR/LLR ratings by province. In British Columbia, the program is also only referred to as the LMR program. The LLR rating system takes into account liabilities related to wells, facilities and pipelines. CanOils Assets is focused ONLY on the well component of the calculation.

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Encana cuts debt by largest amount for E&P TSX companies in past year

Debt reduction has been a hot topic in past year in Canada, as companies adapted to a lower-for-longer price environment.

Out of 70 domestic and international producers listed on the TSX, Q3 2016 data available in CanOils reveals that Encana Corp. (TSX:ECA) has cut debt by the largest monetary value over the past year. The company has removed just under Cdn$2.6 billion of debt from its balance sheet between Q3 2015 and Q3 2016 (see note 1), a reduction of around 30%.

Debt TSX 2016 1

Source: CanOils

The TSX-listed company that has shaved the most debt off its previous year’s balance sheet proportionately is Touchstone Exploration Inc. (TSX:TXP). By cutting its debt by Cdn$6.6 million, Touchstone’s debt levels are 93% lower in Q3 2016 than in Q3 2015.

In terms of domestic producers, Paramount Resources Ltd. (TSX:POU) cut its debt by the largest percentage (84%) over the same timeframe, using funds generated in an asset sale that was the largest E&P deal of the year in Canada.

Debt TSX 2016 2

Source: CanOils

Subsequent to Q3 2016 – and therefore not in these figures – RMP Energy Inc. (TSX:RMP) closed a deal with Enerplus Corp. (TSX:ERF) to sell its assets at Ante Creek for Cdn$114.3 million. The sale proceeds allowed RMP to eliminate its bank debt.

Not all companies reduced debt. Suncor Energy Inc., (TSX:SU) the TSX’s largest current producer, saw the largest debt increase in terms of actual value between Q3 2015 and Q3 2016. Suncor’s debt rose by Cdn$2.9 billion after a busy year of acquisitions. Painted Pony Petroleum Ltd. (TSX:PPY), Oilweek’s producer of the year for 2016, saw debt increase by the largest proportion over the 12 month period, more than ten-fold, to Cdn$537 million. This was mainly due to a new finance lease being accounted for upon the start-up of operations at a gas processing facility and pipeline.

Overall, despite some companies’ increases in debt, these 70 oil and gas companies of the TSX have around 6% less debt impacting their balance sheets in Q3 2016 compared with Q3 2015 (Cdn$92.4 billion vs. Cdn$98.5 billion).

For those domestic operators that have reduced debt by significant margins, focus can switch to other pressing problems relating to the downturn, such as Licensee Liability Ratings (LLR).

This article focuses on the headline debt figures for 70 TSX E&P companies only. More complicated debt analysis for all TSX and TSX-V listed E&P companies, including credit facility usage, liquidity ratios and changes in company capital structures over time, for example, can be carried out with CanOils financial and operating data. Find out more by downloading our brochure here.

Notes

1) Encana is one of a handful of TSX-listed companies in this article that report financial statements in US$. The exchange rate used for all data is US$1 = CDn$1.30919. This was the period end rate for Q3 2016.

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The 10 largest upstream impairments recorded in U.S. oil & gas in 2016

Impairments and write-downs in the U.S. oil and gas industry were brought right back into focus by ExxonMobil’s admission in October 2016 that it might have to write-down the value of some of its E&P assets around the world.

ExxonMobil, in what would be a significant change in accounting policy, may soon officially concede that 3.6 billion barrels of oil-sand reserves in Canada and one billion barrels of other North American reserves are currently not profitable to produce, according to the NY Times.

This would probably be the largest E&P impairment across the entire U.S. industry in 2016, but ExxonMobil would by no means be alone in declaring asset write-downs.

Over the year so far, looking at the most recent year-to-date nine monthly results for U.S.-listed companies in Evaluate Energy, Devon Energy Corp. (NYSE:DVN) has recorded the largest single upstream impairment charge in its income statement at $4.9 billion.

US-Impairments-2016-01.jpg

Source: Evaluate Energy (see note 1)

As for the three month Q3 period alone, the largest upstream impairment was Chesapeake Energy Corp.’s (NYSE:CKE) $1.2 billion charge on oil and gas properties and other fixed assets, which represented around 38% of its total 2016 impairment charges of $3.1 billion.

US-Impairments-2016-02.jpg

Source: Evaluate Energy

While it did not have the largest actual figure relating to impairments, the largest impact of 9M 2016 impairments was felt by Halcon Resources Corp. (NYSE:HK). The company’s $1.2 billion impairment charge over the 9 month period – either side of bankruptcy proceedings – made up the biggest proportion (47%) of pre-impairment total assets at period end across the entire U.S. E&P space.

US-Impairments-2016-03.jpg

Source: Evaluate Energy (see note 2)

Evaluate Energy covers the entire U.S. oil and gas space, with historical financial and operating performance coverage for every single U.S. listed oil and gas company with E&P or refinery interests. To find out more, please download our brochure.

Notes:

1) Chevron’s impairment figure may include costs related to tax adjustments & environmental remediation provisions and severance accruals, as no breakdown of “Impairments and other charges – E&P” is reported.

2) The percentage fall in total assets for 9M 2016 is calculated by comparing 9M 2016 impairments with the total assets figure for 9M 2016 (pre-impairment charge). This gives an estimate of how big an impact the 9M 2016 impairments had on a company’s total assets at the end of the period, i.e. if it wasn’t for the impairments, Halcon’s total assets figure would have been around 47% higher.

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Top 10 upstream M&A deals in Canada in 2016 so far

Up to the end of October 2016, there has been Cdn$10.1 billion spent in Canada on upstream assets in newly announced deals in 2016. It is now over a year since Suncor Energy Inc. (TSX:SU) began its Cdn$6.6 billion takeover approach for Canadian Oil Sands Ltd., which stands out as by far the biggest deal Canada has seen since the price downturn, but 2016’s activity has also been significant. Deals in the Montney areas of Alberta and British Columbia have made huge headlines, Saskatchewan assets have frequently changed hands for large sums and Suncor was not quite finished with the oilsands sector or the Syncrude project in particular after closing the Canadian Oil Sands deal.

The top 10 deals announced in 2016 so far, up to and including deals announced on November 17, 2016, are listed below.

October M&A HZ CTA

 

Canada’s Top 10 upstream deals of 2016 so far

1) Cdn$1.9 billion – Seven Generations Energy acquires Montney assets from Paramount Resources

The biggest deal of 2016 so far saw Seven Generations Energy Ltd. (TSX:VII) acquire Montney production and lands from Paramount Resources Ltd. (TSX:POU) for Cdn$1.9 billion. The consideration will be made up of Cdn$475 million in cash, 33.5 million Seven Generations shares and the assumption of around Cdn$584 million of Paramount debt. By acquiring these assets, Seven Generations is boosting its portfolio with a further 199 million boe of 1P reserves, 30,000 boe/d of production in the company’s core Kakwa River area and 155 net sections of Montney land.

Full report – July 2016 and August 2016

CanOils Assets map of the Kakwa River area as of June 30, 2016

VIIPOU_Map

Source: CanOils Assets

2) Cdn$1.4 billion – Tourmaline Oil Corp. acquires British Columbia Montney and Alberta Deep Basin assets from Shell Canada

The second biggest deal of 2016 so far was announced in October and sees Tourmaline Oil Corp. (TSX:TOU) acquire assets from Shell Canada for just under Cdn$1.4 billion. The assets are located in the BC Montney and the Alberta Deep Basin. The consideration is made up of Cdn$1 billion cash and the remainder in Tourmaline stock. The cash portion of the transaction will be funded through the company’s existing credit facilities and Cdn$739.4 million that will be raised in two equity financings; Tourmaline will look to raise Cdn$100 million via a prospectus offering and a further Cdn$639.4 million via a private placement.

Full report – October 2016

CanOils Assets map of operated Tourmaline (blue) and Shell (red) wells in the Alberta Deep Basin as of September 30, 2016

deep basin

Source: CanOils Assets

3) Cdn$975 million – Teine Energy acquires Penn West Petroleum’s Saskatchewan assets

Teine Energy Ltd., with funds from its own existing credit facilities and significant financial backing from the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, acquired Penn West Petroleum Ltd.’s (TSX:PWT) Dodsland Viking assets in Saskatchewan for C$975 million. This is the biggest deal outside of Alberta and British Columbia so far this year.

Since Q4 2014, when the price downturn really began, Penn West has sold assets in deals worth a total of C$2.5 billion, all aimed at reducing total debt. This single C$975 million asset sale resulted in a markedly improved capital structure; Penn West now says that the company is in the top tier of its peers in terms of all significant debt metrics.

Full report – June 2016

4) Cdn$937 million – Suncor Energy buys Murphy Oil out of Syncrude

Suncor Energy Inc. (TSX:SU), following the C$6.6 billion deal to acquire Canadian Oil Sands Ltd. at the start of 2016, increased its stake in Syncrude by a further 5% in June when it completed its C$937 million deal with Murphy Oil Corp. (NYSE:MUR). This now means that Suncor’s stake in the Syncrude project is 53.74%. Murphy Oil had been a participant in the Syncrude project for over 22 years.

Full report – April 2016 and June 2016

5) Cdn$700 million – Spartan Energy Corp. acquires ARC Resources’ Saskatchewan assets

November 2016 has so far seen two significant deals with values of over Cdn$100 million in Saskatchewan. The larger of the two sees ARC Resources Ltd. (TSX:ARX) exit Saskatchewan entirely. Spartan Energy Corp. (TSX:SPE) is the acquirer of the assets, which are located in the southeast of the province and produce 7,500 boe/d (98% liquids).

Full report coming soon – sign up to our mailing list here

CanOils Assets map of working interest ARC (blue) and Spartan (red) wells in southeast Saskatchewan as of September 30, 2016

ARC Spartan Map1

Source: CanOils Assets

6) Cdn$625 million – Birchcliff Energy acquires Encana’s Gordondale assets in Alberta

Encana Corp. (TSX:ECA), after making two asset sales of over C$1 billion in the United States in the latter half of 2015, has now completed a significant asset sale in Canada. Birchcliff Energy Ltd. (TSX:BIR) is the acquirer, in a Cdn$625 million deal for Encana’s wells and leases in the Gordondale area of Alberta. The assets (65% gas weighted) are located in the Peace River Arch region and the target formations are the Montney and Doig resource plays.

Full report – July 2016

7) Cdn$595 million – Whitecap Resources acquires southwest Saskatchewan assets from Husky Energy

In Saskatchewan’s second biggest deal of 2016 so far, Whitecap Resources Inc. (TSX:WCP) acquired assets in southwest Saskatchewan from Husky Energy Inc. (TSX:HSE) for C$595 million. The deal increased Whitecap’s production by 11,600 boe/d and also increased the company’s oil weighting by 3% to 79%, as the assets being acquired produce 98% oil and NGLs.

Full report – May 2016 and June 2016

8) Cdn$486 million – Murphy Oil and Athabasca Oil Corp form Canadian shale joint venture

A few months before it agreed to leave the Syncrude project behind in a deal with Suncor, Murphy Oil Corp. (NYSE:MUR) agreed a joint venture in the Montney and Duvernay shale plays with Athabasca Oil Corp. (TSX:ATH). The deal, worth Cdn$486 million in Murphy stock, cash and cost carries, sees the two companies join forces in the Greater Kaybob and Greater Placid areas. In the Greater Kaybob area, Murphy will take a 70% stake and operatorship to target the Duvernay shale play. In the Greater Placid area, Murphy will assume a 30% non-operated interest and the target is the Montney shale play.

Map of Leases Included in the Athabasca/Murphy JV Agreement Athabasca Oil Corp. Holdings in Greater Kaybob and Greater Placid Areas

Canada Top 10 Deals MUR ATH

Source: CanOils Assets

Full report – January 2016 and May 2016

9) Cdn$388 million – Tamarack Valley acquires Spur Resources

November’s other significant deal with a value of over $100 million in Saskatchewan involved Tamarack Valley Energy Ltd. (TSX:TVE) acquiring all the issued and outstanding stock of Spur Resources Ltd., a privately-held Viking oil focused company. The deal, worth Cdn$388 million including debt assumption, adds 6,250 boe/d (52% liquids) of low cost production to Tamarack Valley’s portfolio and an extensive drilling inventory of 695 net identified low-risk drilling locations with an average liquids weighting of approximately 70%.

Full report coming soon – sign up to our mailing list here

10) Cdn$268 million – Boulder Energy Ltd. goes private 

2016 has seen a series of TSX-listed companies taken off the stock exchange via corporate acquisitions and become privately-held entities. The biggest acquisition involving purely Canadian assets to be announced during 2016 saw ARC Financial Corp. acquire Boulder Energy Ltd. for around Cdn$268 million including debt assumption. Boulder was only formed as an independent entity in May 2015, having been one of the two resultant companies in the reorganisation of Deethree Energy Ltd. While Granite Oil Corp. (TSX:GXO) was formed with Deethree’s South Alberta Bakken wells and gas injection EOR project, Boulder assumed Deethree’s dominant land position in the Pembina-Brazeau Belly River area of Alberta. Granite has far outperformed Boulder and, as of April 2016, is the only independent entity left from the Deethree reorganisation.

Full report – February 2016 and April 2016

For our full report history, click here.

October M&A HZ CTA

 

Baytex deal reveal

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4 new charts tell us how far the Permian is outstripping rival U.S. oil producing regions

New data illustrates exactly how far the Permian basin is outstripping its rivals in terms of investor interest and deal flow.

The stark reality is that M&A activity focused on the Permian has hit a total of almost $23 billion over the past 21 months – around $16 billion more than its nearest rival, according to our new Evaluate Energy data. This trend of high spends in the Permian basin is also highlighted in our latest Q3 M&A report – 33% of all upstream deals worldwide in Q3 focused upon the Permian basin alone. Find out more.

Permian-Confidence-Chart-01

Source: Evaluate Energy M&A Database

And this is not because of one mega-deal skewing our data. On the contrary, there were 37 deals over the 21 month period with individual values of over $100million, demonstrating higher levels of confidence in the Permian as a long-term investment option over other U.S. onshore producing regions.

Permian-Confidence-Chart-02

Source: Evaluate Energy M&A DatabaseTo download our latest quarterly review of global M&A deals, which includes a detailed look at Q3 activity in the Permian basin, click here.

This confidence in the Permian compared to other oil-heavy regions – and the Bakken in particular – is not only illustrated in M&A activity but also in how much companies are currently willing to invest in their own future.

In Q2 2016, the internal financing gap – that is, the difference between capex and operating cash flow – was far greater for the Permian than all other oil-producing U.S. regions we examined in our latest study. Permian companies recorded an average financing gap per boe of $17/boe in Q2 2016, the highest regional average in the United States. This used to be how we’d describe the Bakken, but that picture has changed dramatically since commodity prices crashed; in Q2 2016, Bakken companies recorded a financing gap per boe of only $5/boe.

Permian-Confidence-Chart-03

Source: Evaluate Energy U.S. Cash Flow Study 2016. See notes for details on calculations and company selection.

The large financing gap in the Permian is driven primarily by extremely robust capex spends. For, while total spending has fallen in the Permian over time, it has done so at a dramatically slower rate than other U.S. oil producing areas. This tells us how confident the operators must be feeling.

To reinforce this narrative, in our latest U.S. cash flow study, we used current financing gaps to calculate what oil producers across the country needed the benchmark WTI price to be in order to cover the entirety of their capex spends using only operating cash flow.

In the case of the Permian, the companies would need a $71 WTI price to do this in Q2 2016. For the Bakken, that price is only $52. In Q2 2016, WTI only averaged $44.86. Our latest cash flow study delves into this calculation in far greater detail.

This figure should not be considered a break-even number, not least because capex spending is optional, for the most part. Rather, it’s a barometer of operators’ confidence in their own long-term prospects.

Permian-Confidence-Chart-04

Source: Evaluate Energy U.S. Cash Flow Study 2016, see notes for more details on calculations and company selection

Clearly, capex plans are lower and less bullish than a year before, as low prices continued to bite. But Permian operators are undoubtedly still displaying a greater level of confidence in being able to fund robust capex spends than their rivals.

CTA-US-Cash-Flow-2016

Notes

  • Company selection – In the U.S. Cash Flow Study referred to throughout this piece, we took 68 representative U.S. oil and gas producers for analysis. They were divided up into peer groups, depending on the size of their production and how much oil each company produced compared to natural gas. A handful of the 68 companies were also taken as representative of a specific region’s cash flow trends, because all or the overwhelming majority of the company’s operations was located in one particular area. Ten such companies were identified for the Permian Basin and six for the Bakken. The peer group named “All majority oil producers” included both of these regional groups, as well as every other company in the overall group of 68 that produced more oil than it did gas (i.e. over 50%) in Q2 2016.
  • Calculations:
  1. The financing gap was calculated by subtracting operating cash flow (including the non-cash effect of changes in working capital) from total capital expenditures.
  2. Financing gap per boe was calculated by taking this figure for all relevant companies and dividing it by the total volume of oil and gas produced over the requisite timeframe, to aid comparability across different regions, regardless of overall production size.
  3. The figures are all calculated on a rolling 12 month basis, i.e. each quarterly figure is the average financing gap per boe over the previous 12 months. This method of calculation diminishes the likelihood of anomalous quarters for individual companies within a peer group skewing the data set.
  4. The WTI price required for operating cash flow to cover the entirety of capex spending was calculated assuming that the only changing variable was the WTI price itself, i.e. all items such as spending, costs, gas prices etc. remained constant.

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Upstream M&A in Canada reaches Cdn$165 million in September 2016

Analysis in CanOils’ latest monthly M&A review suggests that the pressure on Canada’s E&P sector to raise external financing to meet capital commitments would appear to be alleviating somewhat, based upon much lower M&A activity levels in September.

A more secure footing for oil prices, coupled with asset portfolios that are now generally better equipped to see out the price downturn, are the main factors we think contributed to this reduced deal flow.

This month, the value of announced M&A deals in the Canadian E&P sector totalled Cdn$165 million, according to our latest CanOils monthly report, which can be downloaded here. This value stands significantly below the Cdn$1.1 billion monthly average in 2016 to date, and considerably below the Cdn$2.2 billion monthly deal value in Canada since the price downturn.

MA_Chart_Sept_2016

Source: CanOils M&A Review, September 2016

Despite the low activity, interesting trends continue to stand out, most notably activity related to Canada’s private oil and gas companies. InPlay Oil Corp. was the headline maker this month, agreeing two deals with TSX-listed companies aimed at creating a Pembina-Cardium focused producer in west central Alberta. These deals are featured heavily in this month’s report, along with the completed deals to take both Bankers Petroleum Ltd. and Yoho Resources Inc. into private hands.

The report also provides insight into Alberta’s privately-held junior producers, namely companies that produce between 1,000 and 10,000 boe/d. At the end of August 2016, there were 44 privately-held companies that operated this level of production in Alberta.

For more on these private junior companies, as well as analysis on every deal story impacting the Canadian E&P sector in September, download the report here.

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Top 5 Upstream M&A Deals in Canada in 2016 So Far

The opening seven months of 2016 have brought a revival in the Canadian E&P space following an extremely lacklustre end to 2015, when very few deals were agreed in light of an uncertain and inhibitive pricing environment.

In CanOils latest monthly review of deals in the Canadian E&P space, the largest single deal of the year so far is featured – the full report can be downloaded at this link.

ma_chart_july_2016

Source: CanOils Monthly M&A Review, July 2016

The deal saw Seven Generations Energy Ltd. (TSX:VII) agree to acquire Montney production and lands from Paramount Resources Ltd. (TSX:POU) for Cdn$1.9 billion. This consideration represents the biggest deal in Canada since Suncor Energy Inc.’s (TSX:SU) acquisition of Syncrude partner Canadian Oil Sands Ltd. in late 2015. The top 5 deals in the Canadian upstream space between January and July 2016 are briefly profiled below:

1 – Seven Generations Energy acquires Montney assets from Paramount Resources

The consideration of Cdn$1.9 billion will be made up of Cdn$475 million in cash, 33.5 million Seven Generation shares and the assumption of around Cdn$584 million of Paramount debt. By acquiring these assets, Seven Generations is boosting its portfolio with a further 199 million boe of 1P reserves, 30,000 boe/d of production in the company’s core Kakwa River area and 155 net sections of Montney land.

CanOils Assets map of the Kakwa River area as of June 30, 2016

VIIPOU_Map

Source: CanOils Monthly M&A Review, July 2016 – Click Here for Map Legend of wells

cta_ma_july_2016

2 – Teine Energy acquires Penn West Petroleum’s Saskatchewan assets

Teine Energy Ltd., with funds from its own existing credit facilities and significant financial backing from the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, acquired Penn West Petroleum Ltd.’s (TSX:PWT) Dodsland Viking assets in Saskatchewan for Cdn$975 million.

Since Q4 2014, when the price downturn really began, Penn West has sold assets in deals worth a total of Cdn$2.5 billion, all aimed at reducing total debt. This single Cdn$975 million asset sale results in a markedly improved capital structure; Penn West now says that the company is in the top tier of its peers in terms of all significant debt metrics.

3 – Suncor Energy buys Murphy Oil out of Syncrude

Suncor Energy Inc. (TSX:SU), following the Cdn$6.6 billion deal to acquire Canadian Oil Sands Ltd. at the start of 2016, increased its stake in Syncrude by a further 5% in June when it completed its Cdn$937 million deal with Murphy Oil Corp. (NYSE:MUR). This now means that Suncor’s stake in the Syncrude project is 53.74%. Murphy Oil had been a participant in the Syncrude project for over 22 years.

4 – Birchcliff Energy acquires Encana’s Gordondale assets in Alberta

Encana Corp. (TSX:ECA), after making two asset sales of over Cdn$1 billion in the United States in the latter half of 2015, has now completed a significant asset sale in Canada. Birchcliff Energy Ltd. (TSX:BIR) is the acquirer and has parted with Cdn$625 million for Encana’s wells and leases in the Gordondale area of Alberta. The assets (65% gas weighted) are located in the Peace River Arch region and the target formations are the Montney and Doig resource plays.

CanOils Assets map of operated BIR/ECA leases in Gordondale area

BIRECA_MAP

Source: CanOils Monthly M&A Review, July 2016 – Click Here for Map Legend of wells – These leases are located just south of Pouce Coupe on the AB/BC Border.

5 – Whitecap Resources acquires southwest Saskatchewan assets from Husky Energy

Whitecap Resources Inc. (TSX:WCP) acquired assets in southeast Saskatchewan from Husky Energy Inc. (TSX:HSE) for Cdn$595 million. The deal increased Whitecap’s production by 11,600 boe/d and also increased the company’s oil weighting by 3% to 79%, as the assets being acquired produce 98% oil and NGLs.

cta_ma_july_2016

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Canadian Upstream Oil & Gas M&A Finally Takes Off Again in June 2016

In June 2016, the total value of announced M&A deals in the Canadian E&P sector totalled Cdn$2.7 billion, according to CanOils’ new report that looks at all upstream deals involving Canadian E&P companies in June. This resurgence in value comes on the back of an upward trending WTI oil price that surpassed US$50 per barrel during the month.

Despite the fact that June saw Canada’s biggest upstream deal in the first six months of 2016, the overall deal value of Cdn$2.7 billion was widely dispersed; there were seven deals during the month for over Cdn$100 million in value. For context, the last time this number was reached during a calendar month was in September 2014, which was a time before OPEC stopped supporting the oil price and oil was trading for over US$90 per barrel.

MA_Chart_June_2016

Source: CanOils Oil & Gas M&A Review June 2016

Top 5 Deals Announced in June 2016 in Canadian E&P Sector

MA_Table_June_2016

Source: CanOils Oil & Gas M&A Review June 2016 (Includes deals in Canada only)

Penn West Petroleum Ltd.’s (TSX:PWT) sale in Saskatchewan was the biggest deal to be agreed for Canadian assets in the first six months of 2016 and was a continuation of the trend of private equity backed companies making large acquisitions in recent times. Teine Energy Ltd, the acquirer in the deal, is funding the deal through its own credit facilities and also through significant backing from the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.

Encana’s (TSX:ECA) deal to sell some northwestern Alberta assets follows two major asset sales by the company in the U.S. as the company looks to streamline its portfolio, while Athabasca Oil Corp. (TSX:ATH) fresh off closing its merger in the Duvernay and Montney shale plays with Murphy Oil Corp. (NYSE:MUR) last month, has become the latest of many Canadian E&P companies to make a royalty sale.

Full analysis of all the deals listed here and every other deal story involving a Canadian E&P company in June 2016 is available in the report, along with a detailed look at every asset put up for sale in a public listing.

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Why You Should Examine Debt Levels to Predict Next Oil & Gas M&A Mega Deal

If I had to lay odds on which E&P powerhouse is going to secure the sector’s next major corporate acquisition I’d start by examining their ability to absorb substantial levels of debt while still keeping debt-to-capital ratios in balance.

Sightings of large corporate mergers have been rare during the commodity price downturn. During that time, the number of companies with high debt-to-capital ratios has soared. To help understand which oil giants have the financial clout to pull together a major M&A deal, we’ve shortlisted those with the greatest ability to assume debt and remain “healthy”.

For More: JWN Webinar Series – Review of Recent Transactions: Where is Money Being Spent and Why

Companies with greatest debt capacity as of Q1 2016

By assigning an arbitrary debt-to-capital ratio of 35% as “healthy” you can see which companies are currently able to assume the most extra net debt for a corporate acquisition either in Canada or internationally, and still keep debt levels in check. For example, Tourmaline Oil Corp. (TSX:TOU) would be able to assume Cdn$799 million extra net debt in any acquisition in this model, based on its Q1 2016 balance sheet, before its debt-to-capital ratio exceeded 35%.

Debt_Capacity_MA_Blog_Q2_2016

Source: Evaluate Energy & CanOils, Q1 2016 Financial Data

Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean these companies will seek a merger deal. But if they do, they’ll have plenty of capacity for additional debt assumption.

More details on this can be found in the webinar I delivered last week, which can be viewed here.

Why is debt important to consider NOW?

It’s true that the general capital profile of an upstream oil and gas company has, on the whole, changed dramatically since the price downturn began. Looking at U.S. and international companies that report to the SEC as well as every TSX company, we can see a general increase in risk since last year by looking at those debt-to-capital ratios. The findings are intriguing:

Debt_Capacity_MA_Blog_Q2_2016

Source: JWN Webinar Series – Review of Recent Transactions: Where is Money Being Spent and Why

In 2015, debt was a much greater proportion of their entire capital structure than 2014. That’s hardly a major surprise given the downturn. Some companies even moved into a negative equity position in 2015, as pressures from a longer period of low commodity prices mounted.

Analysis: Biggest corporate deals of the downturn

The highest profile global corporate merger during the downturn was undoubtedly Royal Dutch Shell’s (LSE:RDSA) acquisition of BG Group for around US$81 billion. In Canada, it was Suncor Energy’s (TSX:SU) Cdn$6.6 billion acquisition of Canadian Oil Sands Ltd. (COS) to become the largest stakeholder in the Syncrude project.

Both deals had a lot in common: a large issuance of stock in the acquiring company to the target, as well as the assumption of significant debt.

  • Royal Dutch Shell, as well as 383 UK pence per share, offered 0.4454 B shares in the company to BG, and took on just shy of US$10 billion in debt according to BG’s annual 2015 statements.
  • Suncor issued 0.28 shares in the company to COS in consideration for the acquisition and also assumed Cdn$2.4 billion in debt, according to press announcements.

June 2016 has also seen a couple more deals in Canada that follow this debt assumption pattern.

  • Raging River Exploration Inc. (TSX:RRX) has agreed to acquire Rock Energy Inc. (TSX:RE) in a deal where debt assumption of Cdn$67 million makes up 61% of the total deal consideration.
  • Gear Energy Ltd. (TSX:GXE) will be acquiring Striker Exploration Ltd. (TSX-V:SKX) in a deal worth around Cdn$66 million by issuing 2.325 Gear shares for every Striker share as well as assuming Striker’s Cdn$10 million in debt. (see note 1)

It’s this ability to assume debt and still remain healthy that we think is crucial in identifying those most likely to take on a big corporate merger in the near future.

Both Suncor and Royal Dutch Shell appear in our above list of companies with high debt capacity. Suncor has been linked to more acquisition activity in press reports, while Shell has not – having actually been linked with more asset sales than purchases. In fact, rumours came out of the company that Shell assets were going to hit the market in ten countries worldwide in the not-too-distant future.

Of the other companies listed with greatest debt capacity, many have been selling high-value royalty assets in Canada to bolster their activities with significant cash through the downturn, while the international list includes some of the world’s biggest and most powerful companies.

With companies also having put copious funding into cost controls in recent times and oil prices starting to trend upwards a bit, we might just be around the corner from one of the companies on this list making the world’s next big corporate merger in the E&P sector and we should expect it to include the significant assumption of debt.

CTA_JWN_Webinar

Notes:

1) To value all acquisitions where stock is used as part of the consideration, Evaluate Energy and CanOils always use the day prior share price. Sometimes companies use a deemed stock value or a weighted average price in their press announcements to value the stock, but for comparability reasons, we always use the same method for every deal. This may create some slight discrepancies between our data and announced deal values. Gear valued its acquisition of Striker based on its concurrent bought deal financing, rather than its trading share price, and reported a value of Cdn$63.7 million.

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