Zargon Oil & Gas Ltd. Provides 2012 Third Quarter Results

Wed Nov 7, 2012 5:01pm EST

* Reuters is not responsible for the content in this press release.

Zargon Oil & Gas Ltd. ("Zargon" or the "Company") (TSX:ZAR) (TSX:ZAR.DB).


--  Third quarter 2012 production averaged 7,634 barrels of oil equivalent
    as compared to 8,290 barrels of oil equivalent for the preceding
    quarter. Oil and liquids production averaged 5,079 barrels per day, a
    six percent decline, or 305 barrels of oil per day from the preceding
    quarter of 5,384 barrels of oil per day, due in part to a six month
    break in our drilling program and the full impact of the property sales
    totalling 275 barrels of oil per day which occurred in the second
    quarter. Third quarter 2012 natural gas production averaged 15.33
    million cubic feet per day, a 12 percent decline from the preceding
    quarter. The reduction in natural gas production volumes was due
    primarily to the shut-in of natural gas wells caused by low natural gas
--  Funds flow from operating activities of $14.35 million were 16 percent
    higher than the $12.37 million recorded in the prior quarter and two
    percent lower than the $14.59 million reported in the third quarter of
    2011. Funds flow from operating activities for the 2012 third quarter
    included reductions of $0.71 million of asset retirement expenses. At
    quarter end, Zargon had 29.78 million shares outstanding. 
--  Three monthly cash dividends of $0.10 per common share were declared in
    the third quarter of 2012 for a total of $8.91 million ($7.75 million
    after accounting for the common shares issued under the Dividend
    Reinvestment Plan ("DRIP") in lieu of cash dividends). These cash
    dividends (net of the DRIP) were equivalent to a payout ratio of 54
    percent of funds flow from operating activities. Commencing in the
    fourth quarter of 2012, Zargon's monthly cash dividend has been set at
    $0.06 per common share.  
--  Third quarter 2012 exploration and development capital expenditures
    (excluding property acquisitions and dispositions) were $9.04 million
    and included $1.84 million of expenditures related to the Little Bow
    Alkaline Surfactant Polymer ("ASP") tertiary recovery project. 
--  Including $57.50 million of convertible debentures, Zargon's September
    30, 2012 debt net of working capital (excluding unrealized derivative
    assets/liabilities) of $99.13 million was approximately 1.7 times
    annualized 2012 third quarter funds flow from operating activities. At
    September 30, 2012, Zargon had more than $120 million of available
    credit facilities remaining on its $165 million borrowing base. As of
    November 7, 2012, Zargon has entered into an average of 2,075 barrels of
    oil per day of forward commodity hedges that represent 38 percent of the
    2013 oil and liquids production guidance volumes at an average price of
    $98.97 US per barrel (WTI). 
--  On a unit of production basis, production and operating inclusive of
    transportation costs were $15.34 per barrel of oil equivalent in the
    third quarter of 2012, a decrease of 11 percent from the calendar 2011
    average cost of $17.19 per barrel of oil equivalent. These improvements
    have been made pursuant to a comprehensive cost containment initiative
    that was implemented in response to disappointing 2011 operating cost

                                  Three Months Ended      Nine Months Ended 
                                       September 30,          September 30, 
                                             Percent                Percent 
(unaudited)                      2012   2011  Change    2012   2011  Change 
Financial Highlights                                                        
Income and Investments ($                                                   
  Gross petroleum and natural                                               
   gas sales                    36.91  44.99     (18) 120.07 140.40     (14)
  Funds flow from operating                                                 
   activities                   14.35  14.59      (2)  40.24  43.57      (8)
  Cash flows from operating                                                 
   activities                   12.16  13.75     (12)  42.02  50.29     (16)
  Cash dividends (net of                                                    
   Dividend Reinvestment Plan)   7.75  10.75     (28)  22.65  30.87     (27)
  Net earnings/(losses)         (4.02) 30.69    (113)   4.51  34.25     (87)
  Field capital and                                                         
   administrative asset                                                     
   expenditures                  9.08  18.05     (50)  39.16  48.22     (19)
  Net property and corporate                                                
   acquisitions/(dispositions)   1.27 (22.66)    106  (34.70)(24.45)    (42)
  Net capital                                                               
   expenditures/(dispositions)  10.35  (4.61)    325    4.46  23.77     (81)
Per Share, Basic                                                            
  Fund flows from operating                                                 
   activities ($/share)          0.48   0.50      (4)   1.36   1.53     (11)
  Net earnings/(losses)                                                     
   ($/share)                    (0.14)  1.05    (113)   0.15   1.21     (88)
Cash Dividends ($/common                                                    
 share)                          0.30   0.42     (29)   0.90   1.26     (29)
Balance Sheet at Period End ($                                              
  Property and equipment                              386.72 427.67     (10)
  Exploration and evaluation                                                
   assets                                              21.38  25.74     (17)
  Total assets                                        440.77 489.77     (10)
  Working capital deficiency                           14.04  17.81     (21)
  Bank debt                                            27.58  76.69     (64)
  Convertible debenture at                                                  
   maturity                                            57.50      -       - 
  Shareholders' equity                                210.35 254.85     (17)
Weighted Average Shares                                                     
 Outstanding for the Period                                                 
 (millions) - Basic             29.69  29.17       2   29.54  28.41       4 
Weighted Average Shares                                                     
 Outstanding for the Period                                                 
 (millions) - Diluted           29.69  29.24       2   29.62  28.58       4 
Total Common Shares                                                         
 Outstanding at Period End                                                  
 (millions)                                            29.78  29.24       2 
Funds flow from operating activities is an additional GAAP term that        
represents net earnings/(losses) and asset retirement expenditures except   
for non-cash items.                                                         
                                  Three Months Ended      Nine Months Ended 
                                       September 30,          September 30, 
                                             Percent                Percent 
(unaudited)                      2012   2011  Change    2012   2011  Change 
Operating Highlights                                                        
Average Daily Production                                                    
  Oil and liquids (bbl/d)       5,079  5,330      (5)  5,319  5,417      (2)
  Natural gas (mmcf/d)          15.33  22.10     (31)  17.59  21.98     (20)
  Equivalent (boe/d)            7,634  9,014     (15)  8,250  9,080      (9)
Average Selling Price (before                                               
 the impact of financial risk                                               
 management contracts)                                                      
  Oil and liquids ($/bbl)       72.71  77.18      (6)  76.03  80.33      (5)
  Natural gas ($/mcf)            2.08   3.51     (41)   1.92   3.60     (47)
Netback ($/boe)                                                             
  Petroleum and natural gas                                                 
   sales                        52.55  54.25      (3)  53.11  56.64      (6)
  Royalties                    (10.19)(10.40)     (2) (10.21)(10.38)     (2)
  Realized gain/(loss) on                                                   
   derivatives                   1.44  (1.73)    183   (1.22) (3.83)    (68)
  Production and operating                                                  
   costs                       (14.90)(16.37)     (9) (15.96)(16.29)     (2)
  Transportation                (0.44) (0.50)    (12)  (0.47) (0.51)     (8)
  Operating netback             28.46  25.25      13   25.25  25.63      (1)
Wells Drilled, Net                3.0   14.2     (79)   12.8   23.8     (46)
Undeveloped Land at Period End                                              
 (thousand net acres)                                    361    448     (19)
The calculation of barrels of oil equivalent ("boe") is based on the        
conversion ratio that six thousand cubic feet of natural gas is equivalent  
to one barrel of oil.                                                       

    Field Activities

    Field activities were limited to workovers and turnarounds for most of
the third quarter. Starting in mid-September, Zargon began its fall
drilling program at Bellshill Lake with the drilling of 2.0 net oil wells
and 1.0 net water disposal well. For the year, Zargon has drilled 12.8
net oil wells and is planning on drilling an additional 15 net wells in
the 2012 fourth quarter. This program will entail a Hamilton Lake water
disposal well and oil exploitation horizontal locations at Bellshill Lake
(three additional), Hamilton Lake (three), Taber South (three) and
Williston Basin (five). Each of these locations target increased oil
recoveries from existing oil pools. In aggregate, Zargon has identified
more than 130 horizontal locations in six conventional (non-ASP) oil
exploitation projects, which will provide a high-graded drilling
inventory for many years. Each of these six oil exploitation projects are
(or will be) pressure supported by water injections or natural reservoir
aquifers and consequently provide long-life low-decline oil volumes that
will support future dividends. A summary of these six oil exploitation
projects is provided below: 

                                               Identified Recognized in 2011
Project      Formation         Reservoir Drive  Locations  Year End Reserves
Lake            Viking   Eventually Waterflood        50+                  0
Killam       Mannville   Eventually Waterflood         10                  3
Lake         Mannville          Strong Aquifer          5                  0
Taber South   Sunburst      Partial Waterflood         10                  1
Structures   Frobisher          Strong Aquifer        15+                  1
Drainage        Midale       Mostly Waterflood        40+                  2
                           Ultimately Pressure                              
Total           Varied               Supported       130+                  7

    For further information regarding the potential and economics of these
projects, please refer to our updated corporate presentation, which is
available at 

    Dividend Sustainability Calculation 

    Zargon's six non-ASP oil exploitation projects provide a quality drilling
inventory that is expected to deliver stable per share oil production for
the foreseeable future. Using assumptions of a 13 percent DRIP
participation rate, an average corporate oil production decline of 21
percent per year with historical oil production addition efficiencies of
$40,000 per barrel per day, we estimate that 25 net horizontal oil
exploitation wells (or $50 million of expenditures) are required annually
to offset oil production declines in the 2013-2017 period. In an $85 Cdn.
per barrel Edmonton par price environment, our forecasts indicate that
sufficient cash flow is generated to completely fund the $50 million
annual capital program and the current $0.06 per share per month
dividend. The calculation is based on current forward natural gas prices,
total operating, transportation and general and administrative ("G&A")
costs of $20.50 per barrel of oil equivalent, and demonstrates stable oil
production volumes on a per share basis prior to Little Bow ASP
production contributions. With these pricing and efficiency estimates for
the six non-ASP projects, debt levels remain unchanged after paying a
stable $0.06 per share monthly dividend. At this dividend level, Zargon's
$120+ million of unutilized bank lines can be prudently allocated to
deliver oil production and reserve growth by partially financing the
Little Bow ASP project which is expected to provide an incremental 1,400
barrels of oil production by 2017. Including the Little Bow ASP project,
Zargon's oil production per share is projected to increase by an average
of seven percent per year in the 2013-2017 period. For further
information regarding the dividend sustainability calculation and the
related input parameters, please refer to our updated corporate
presentation, which is available at 

    Little Bow Alkaline Surfactant Polymer ("ASP") Project 

    In addition to the above mentioned six conventional oil exploitation
projects, Zargon is developing a tertiary recovery ASP oil exploitation
project at Little Bow, Alberta. This ASP project entails the injection of
a dilute chemical solution into a partially depleted reservoir to recover
incremental oil reserves. In its 2011 year end review, McDaniel and
Associates Consultants Ltd. assigned 4.15 million barrels of probable
undeveloped oil equivalent reserves to Zargon's working interest in
phases 1 and 2 of the project. 

    To date in 2012, Zargon has completed the front-end engineering and
design ("FEED") studies, finalized the selection of key alkaline and
polymer components, obtained scheme approval from the Energy Resources
Conservation Board ("ERCB"), completed the majority of the detailed
design and commenced the procurement of long-lead-time equipment. Zargon
has also acquired operatorship and majority ownership of the Travers Gas
Plant which is directly adjacent to our Little Bow oil facilities and is
expected to provide solution gas processing facilities for the life of
the ASP project. Early next year, Zargon will execute well workovers and
pipeline upgrades required for the ASP project, which will also benefit
existing waterflood operations in the near term. 

    For 2012, ASP development capital is now expected to total a reduced $10
million. The next step in the development of this project will be the
final sanctioning of the project's construction by mid-March 2013 in
order to commence chemical injections by year end 2013, which in turn is
expected to deliver incremental oil production by the second quarter of

    The total capital cost of phases 1 and 2 of the Little Bow ASP project is
approximately $59 million (as spent dollars). The scheduling of these
expenditures is comprised of $10 million of expenditures in 2012, $37
million in 2013, and the remaining $12 million of the capital costs
relating to the project's phase 2 implementation scheduled for 2014 and
2015. The estimated total phase 1 and 2 chemical cost for the 2013-2019
chemical injection period will be capitalized and is $50 million (as
spent dollars). 

    Based on this capital program, phase 1 and 2 peak incremental oil
production is estimated at 1,400 barrels of oil per day in 2016-2019.
Using these rates with an estimated field oil price of $68 per barrel
($85 Cdn. per barrel Edmonton par price), a 12 percent incremental
tertiary royalty rate, and operating costs of $12 per barrel of
incremental oil, the project is forecast to provide a field netback of
approximately $48 per barrel of incremental oil production volumes.
Follow-on capital expenditures for phases 3 and 4 of the Little Bow ASP
project are expected to be completed by 2017 with forecasted total
combined phase 1 to 4 project peak production rates expected to occur in
2020. For further information regarding the Little Bow ASP project,
please refer to our updated corporate presentation, which is available at 

    Updated 2012 Outlook and First Look 2013 Capital Budgets 

    Zargon's 2012 non-ASP field capital budget provides for 28 net oil
exploitation wells (an increase from the 25 wells previously forecasted)
and consequently, capital expenditures have increased by $3 million to
$58 million, of which $35.72 million has been spent in the first nine
months of the year. Consistent with the prior two years, the budget
reflects essentially no natural gas related expenditures. 

    In addition to the $58 million of non-ASP capital expenditures, Zargon is
projecting to spend $10 million (down from the previously forecasted $15
million) on the Little Bow ASP project capital in 2012 of which $3.33
million has already been spent in the first nine months of 2012. 

    During 2012, Zargon has worked to improve its operating and G&A cost
structure by high-grading its activities to six conventional (non-ASP)
clearly defined long-life low-decline oil exploitation initiatives. In
addition, a comprehensive natural gas property review has been concluded
to identify well shut-ins, facility consolidation and other fixed-cost
saving opportunities that will permit improved returns when natural gas
prices improve. These operating cost initiatives have been successful and
the combined 2012 third quarter operating and transportation costs
declined to $15.34 per barrel of oil equivalent, down 11 percent from the
$17.19 per barrel of oil equivalent that was reported in calendar 2011.
Looking forward, we are comfortable that combined operating and
transportation costs can be maintained at $16.00 per barrel of oil
equivalent or less.

    Zargon's 2013 capital budget has been set at $50 million for conventional
projects with the drilling of 25 net oil exploitation wells, plus an
additional $37 million for the Little Bow ASP project which is
conditional on the sanctioning of the construction phase of the tertiary
recovery project. This $87 million capital program is forecasted to be
funded by cash flows, bank debt and the sale of $20 million of minor
non-strategic oil properties that are not related to Zargon's six core
conventional oil projects. 

    Production Guidance 

    In the August 8, 2012 press release, guidance for the second half 2012
production was provided at 5,200 barrels of oil and liquids per day with
5,050 and 5,350 barrels of oil and liquids per day in the third and
fourth quarters, respectively. Third quarter actual volumes were 5,079
barrels of oil and liquids per day and exceeded guidance levels. With a
late start to the active fall 2012 drilling program, fourth quarter
production guidance levels are now estimated at 5,100 barrels of oil and
liquids per day, with year end exit rates projected to exceed 5,400
barrels of oil per day.

    During this spring and summer, Zargon shut-in three million cubic feet
per day of natural gas volumes for economic reasons, and consequently,
third quarter production volumes declined to 15.33 million cubic feet per
day, a 12 percent decrease from second quarter levels. With the recently
improved natural gas prices, shut-in wells are being returned to
production with the expectation that year end production will exceed
16.50 million cubic feet per day. 

    Zargon has set forward-looking production guidance estimates using a
"top-down" approach based on corporate declines and capital program
production addition efficiencies. Specifically, the calculation is based
on an average 21 percent decline annual corporate oil production decline
and field capital program production addition efficiencies of $40,000 per
barrel of oil per day. These guidance levels are then adjusted for
acquisitions or dispositions that may occur. 

    Based on a budget of $50 million of (non-ASP) capital expenditures in
2013 and before allowance for the forecasted $20 million of non-strategic
oil property dispositions, Zargon's average oil and liquids production in
2013 is estimated to exceed 5,400 barrels per day. When specific property
dispositions are concluded, we will adjust the oil production guidance
accordingly. With essentially no natural gas related capital expenditures
in 2013, natural gas production volumes are forecast to average 15.50
million cubic feet per day in 2013, which reflects an annualized 12
percent production decline from the estimated year end 2012 production
rates of 16.50 million per cubic feet per day. 

    Forward-Looking Statements 

    This press release offers our assessment of Zargon's future plans and
operations as at November 7, 2012, and contains certain forward-looking
information and statements within the meaning of applicable securities
laws. The use of any of the words "anticipate", "continue", "estimate",
"expect", "forecast", "may", "will", "project", "should", "plan",
"intend", "believe" and similar expressions (including the negatives
thereof) are intended to identify forward-looking information or
statements. In particular, but without limiting the foregoing, this news
release contains forward-looking information and statements pertaining to
the following: our dividend policy and the amount of future dividends;
various plans, forecasts and estimates as to drilling locations,
operations, completions and other operational forecasts referred to under
"Dividend Sustainability Calculation", and the results therefrom under
the heading "Field Activities"; anticipated future oil production and
decline rates, various pricing efficiency estimates and other factors
relating to our dividend policy, amount of future dividend, future debt
levels and financing sources and use of funds referred to under "Dividend
Sustainability Calculation"; guidance as to our 2012 and 2013 capital
budgets, including the allocation thereof and the sources of funding and
various plans, forecasts and estimates as to drilling cost reduction
initiatives, and other operational forecasts and plans and results
therefrom under the heading "Updated 2012 Outlook and First Look 2013
Capital Budgets"; our plans with respect to our Little Bow ASP project
and the results therefrom referred to under the heading "Little Bow
Alkaline Surfactant Polymer ("ASP") Project"; our use of funds from the
issuance of convertible unsecured subordinated debentures and bank line
referred to under "Dividend Sustainability Calculation" and "Updated 2012
Outlook and First Look 2013 Capital Budgets", and all matters, including
guidance as to our estimated 2012 and 2013 production and production mix,
and anticipated decline rates, under the heading "Production Guidance". 

    The forward-looking information and statements included in this news
release are not guarantees of future performance and should not be unduly
relied upon. Such information and statements involve known and unknown
risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause actual results or
events to differ materially from those anticipated in such
forward-looking information or statements including, without limitation:
those relating to results of operations and financial condition; general
economic conditions; industry conditions; changes in regulatory and
taxation regimes; volatility of commodity prices; escalation of operating
and capital costs; currency fluctuations; the availability of services;
imprecision of reserve estimates; geological, technical, drilling and
processing problems; environmental risks; weather; the lack of
availability of qualified personnel or management; stock market
volatility; the ability to access sufficient capital from internal and
external sources; and competition from other industry participants for,
among other things, capital, services, acquisitions of reserves,
undeveloped lands and skilled personnel. Risks are described in more
detail in our Annual Information Form, which is available on our website
and at Forward-looking statements are provided to allow
investors to have a greater understanding of our business. 

    You are cautioned that the assumptions used in the preparation of such
information and statements, including, among other things: future oil and
natural gas prices; future capital expenditure levels; future production
levels; future exchange rates; the cost of developing and expanding our
assets; our ability to obtain equipment in a timely manner to carry out
development activities; our ability to market our oil and natural gas
successfully to current and new customers; the impact of increasing
competition; the availability of adequate and acceptable debt and equity
financing and funds from operations to fund our planned expenditures; and
our ability to add production and reserves through our development and
acquisition activities, although considered reasonable at the time of
preparation, may prove to be imprecise and, as such, undue reliance
should not be placed on forward-looking statements. Our actual results,
performance, or achievement could differ materially from those expressed
in, or implied by, these forward-looking statements. We can give no
assurance that any of the events anticipated will transpire or occur, or
if any of them do, what benefits we will derive from them. The
forward-looking information and statements contained in this document is
expressly qualified by this cautionary statement. Our policy for updating
forward-looking statements is that Zargon disclaims, except as required
by law, any intention or obligation to update or revise any
forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information,
future events or otherwise.

    Additional GAAP Financial Measures 

    Zargon uses the following terms for measurement within this press release
that do not have a standardized prescribed meaning under Canadian
generally accepted accounting principles ("GAAP") and these measurements
may not be comparable with the calculation of similar measurements of
other entities. 

    The terms "funds flow from operating activities" and "operating netback
per boe" in this press release are not recognized measures under GAAP.
Management of Zargon believes that in addition to net earnings and cash
flows from operating activities as defined by GAAP, these terms are
useful supplemental measures to evaluate operating performance and assess
leverage. Users are cautioned, however, that these measures should not be
construed as an alternative to net earnings or cash flows from operating
activities determined in accordance with GAAP as an indication of
Zargon's performance. 

    Zargon considers funds flow from operating activities to be an important
measure of Zargon's ability to generate the funds necessary to finance
capital expenditures, pay dividends and repay debt. All references to
funds flow from operating activities throughout this press release are
based on cash provided by operating activities before the change in
non-cash working capital since Zargon believes the timing of collection,
payment or incurrence of these items involves a high degree of discretion
and, as such, may not be useful for evaluating Zargon's operating
performance. Zargon's method of calculating funds flow from operating
activities may differ from that of other companies and, accordingly, may
not be comparable to measures used by other companies. 

    51-101 Advisory 

    In conformity with National Instrument 51-101, Standards for Disclosure
of Oil and Gas Activities ("NI 51-101"), natural gas volumes have been
converted to a barrel of oil equivalent ("boe") using six thousand cubic
feet of gas to one barrel of oil. In certain circumstances, natural gas
liquid volumes have been converted to a thousand cubic feet equivalent
("mcfe") on the basis of one barrel of natural gas liquids to six
thousand cubic feet of gas. Boes and mcfes may be misleading,
particularly if used in isolation. A conversion ratio of one barrel to
six thousand cubic feet of natural gas is based on an energy equivalency
conversion method primarily applicable at the burner tip and does not
represent a value equivalency at the wellhead. Given that the value ratio
based on the current price of crude oil as compared to natural gas is
significantly different from the energy equivalency of 6:1, utilizing a
conversion ratio on a 6:1 basis may be misleading as an indication of


    Zargon has filed with Canadian securities regulatory authorities its
unaudited financial statements for the three and nine months ended
September 30, 2012 and the accompanying Managements' Discussion and
Analysis ("MD&A"). These filings are available under Zargon's SEDAR
profile at Full pdf versions of our three and nine months
ended September 30, 2012 unaudited financial statements and the
accompanying MD&A are available on our website at

    About Zargon 

    Based in Calgary, Alberta, Zargon's securities trade on the Toronto Stock
Exchange and there are currently approximately 29.780 million common
shares (ZAR) outstanding. 

    Zargon Oil & Gas Ltd. is a Calgary based oil and natural gas company
working in the Western Canadian and Williston sedimentary basins that has
delivered a long history of returns, dividends (distributions) and value
creation. Zargon's business is focused on oil exploitation projects where
we employ a careful reservoir engineering inspired technical approach to
profitably increase oil recovery factors from existing oil reservoirs. 

    In order to learn more about Zargon, we encourage you to visit Zargon's
website at where you will find a current shareholder
presentation, financial reports and historical news releases. 

Zargon Oil & Gas Ltd.
C.H. Hansen
President and Chief Executive Officer
403-264-9992 or Toll Free: 1-855-464-9992

J.B. Dranchuk
Vice President, Finance and Chief Financial Officer
403-264-9992 or Toll Free: 1-855-464-9992

Copyright 2012, Market Wire, All rights reserved.