Pengrowth Energy Corporation (TSX:PGF)(NYSE:PGH) is pleased to announce its first quarter 2017 operating results, a substantial reduction in outstanding debt, significant asset sales and further reductions in its cost structures.
Since the start of 2017 Pengrowth has closed or expects to close $707 million of asset sales, which when combined with the $287 million of cash on hand at year end 2016, represents a net debt reduction of nearly $1.0 billion or approximately 60 percent of December 31, 2016 debt, while only reducing the Company's Proven and Probable reserves as of December 31, 2016 by approximately 11 percent. This significant level of debt reduction should enable Pengrowth to either replace existing debt with new debt that has less restrictive covenants or renegotiate the terms of the remaining existing debt, which would allow Pengrowth to pursue the expansion of Lindbergh.
Derek Evans, President and Chief Executive Officer of Pengrowth commented, "We are delighted by the progress that we have made on reducing our debt and strengthening our balance sheet. Our efforts and results to date have been transformational for Pengrowth and have put us on a path to either renegotiate or refinance our remaining term debt into a new structure that should allow for the flexibility to develop the second phase of our world class Lindbergh thermal asset."
Pengrowth achieved first quarter average daily production of 52,957 boe per day, compared to average daily production of 62,056 boe per day in the first quarter of 2016. The decrease in production year over year can be attributed to the absence of volumes from property divestments, additional shut-in natural gas volumes and natural declines, as well as the absence of a condensate shipment from the Sable Offshore Energy Project in the quarter.
Performance from the Company's Lindbergh thermal project continues to exceed nameplate capacity with production in the quarter averaging 14,865 barrels (bbl) per day at an average steam oil ratio of 2.57 times. Production in the quarter was impacted by the Phase One well pairs commencing their expected natural decline after having been on production for over 24 months. Pengrowth has not drilled any new well pairs into the project in the last two years, and the Company expects production will decline over the year until the new well pairs associated with the Phase One optimization program begin steaming later this year.
During the quarter, the Phase One optimization program commenced with $13.7 million of capital being put to work drilling infill and observation wells as well as related surface and facility construction. It is anticipated that a total of seven new SAGD well pairs will be drilled over the next two quarters, with first production expected by the end of the year.
In addition to Phase one optimization expenditures and activities, ongoing engineering and design work relating to the second expansion phase was carried out in the quarter. Pengrowth anticipates having 70 percent of the engineering and design work complete by the end of year and to be ready to execute on Phase Two as funds become available.
The Company delivered first quarter funds flow from operations of $26.9 million ($0.05 per share), compared to funds flow of $106.2 million ($0.20 per share) for the same period in 2016. The decrease in funds flow year over year was primarily due to the absence of significant hedging gains realized in the first quarter of 2016 coupled with lower production volumes year over year and a realized hedging loss in the first quarter of 2017. Pengrowth realized $127.0 million of hedging gains in the first quarter of 2016 from its risk management program, which had a higher fixed volume and higher fixed price point on the contracts compared to the first quarter of 2017. Offsetting this were higher realized prices during the first quarter of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016 due to material improvements in both crude oil and natural gas benchmark prices. The result of which led to a 256 percent increase in operating netbacks, before the impacts of commodity risk management, of $17.18 per boe in the first quarter of 2017 compared to $4.82 per boe in the first quarter of 2016.
Financial Resources and Liquidity
A key focus for Pengrowth in 2017 continues to be on improving the health and strength of its balance sheet. The Company reduced its total debt by $535 million through the prepayment of US $300 million of its 6.35 percent Notes and the redemption of $126.6 million of convertible debentures at maturity. Following these payments, Pengrowth's total debt at March 31, 2017 amounted to $1.15 billion compared to $1.68 billion at December 31, 2016. On April 26, 2017, the Company gave notice of prepayment to the holders of its remaining 6.35 percent Notes that it intends to prepay the US $100 million of Notes on June 2, 2017.
Following the debt repayments by March 31, 2017, Pengrowth's ratio of trailing twelve month senior debt to Adjusted EBITDA decreased to 2.5 times from 3.1 times at December 31, 2016. Pengrowth projects it will remain on side of its financial covenants through 2017 and 2018 using certain assumptions. The key assumptions used in the projection include an improvement in West Texas crude oil to US $60 per barrel by the third quarter of 2017, closing of the two announced Swan Hills dispositions by May 31, 2017 and using the cash proceeds to prepay the 2017 and 2018 unsecured notes. To provide additional financial flexibility,
Pengrowth is considering accessing the capital markets before the end of third quarter of 2017 to replace existing debt with less restrictive high yield debt, or renegotiating the terms of the remaining existing debt. This financial flexibility together with proceeds from any additional asset dispositions could be used towards the funding of the Lindbergh expansion and other capital projects.
The vast majority of Pengrowth's long term debt and interest payments are denominated in US dollars and, as such, are subject to fluctuations in the exchange rate between the Canadian and US dollars. Pengrowth manages this foreign exchange exposure through swap contracts on the majority of its outstanding foreign denominated notes. At March 31, 2017 Pengrowth held US $620 million of swap contracts at a weighted average exchange rate of Cdn $0.75/US $1.00.
At the end of the quarter, Pengrowth elected to close out its 2017 oil risk management contracts at a cost of $12.7 million and at this time has no oil risk management contracts in place. The liquidated contracts had an average hedge value that was below current prices and resulted in a loss to Pengrowth in the first quarter. The Company also entered into new natural gas risk management contracts in the quarter to provide downside protection against potential declines in natural gas prices.
Since late 2016, the Company has announced a number of transactions, including the recent agreements to sell its Swan Hills assets in north central Alberta and its non-producing Montney lands at Bernadet in north east British Columbia. The total cash proceeds from the announced dispositions amounts to $707 million and Pengrowth anticipates using the proceeds from these sales towards debt reduction. When combined with the $287 million of cash on hand that the Company had at December 31, 2016, the Company's total debt will be reduced by approximately $1.0 billion since year end 2016.
In 2017 the Company has achieved substantial success in selling assets, substantially reducing debt and improving the strength of the balance sheet. The announced asset sales and associated delevering of the balance sheet will allow Pengrowth to focus on its key core assets at Lindbergh and Groundbirch.
The Company remains in discussions with lenders of its syndicated bank facility and with the holders of its senior term notes to achieve the financial flexibility it needs to move forward with the development of the next expansion phase of its Lindbergh thermal project.
Pengrowth will host an analyst call and listen-only audio webcast beginning at 6:30 A.M. Mountain Daylight Time (MDT) on Wednesday, May 3, 2017, during which management will review Pengrowth's first quarter results and respond to questions from the analyst community.
To ensure timely participation in the teleconference, callers are encouraged to dial in 10 minutes prior to the start of the call to register.
Toll free: (844) 358-9179 or International: (478) 219-0186
Live listen only audio webcast: http://edge.media-server.com/m/p/n587h8ipPengrowth's unaudited Financial Statements for the three months ended March 31, 2017 and related Management's Discussion and Analysis can be viewed on Pengrowth's website at www.pengrowth.com.
Pengrowth Energy Corporation is a Canadian intermediate energy company focused on the sustainable development and production of oil and natural gas in Western Canada. The Company is headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and has been operating in the Western basin for over 28 years. The Company's shares trade on both the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol "PGF" and on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "PGH".
SOURCE: Pengrowth Energy Corporation
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