Q&A from Investor Meet Company presentation (22 July 2020)
All answers are given by President Energy Chairman, Peter Levine
As a corporate investor in President. Why is it that no one from investor relations makes contact and you don't have a base in UK where questions can be asked.
Well, part of that question is, if we don’t know who you are, we can’t work with you. I don’t understand necessarily what a corporate investor is i.e do you mean an institution. Obviously, we welcome every investor, whether it is somebody who has one share or someone who owns 20 or 40 million shares, but the bottom line is that we need to know you are. We can only go on the share register and a lot of the shares owned in the share register are held through nominees. So, we try to communicate, and we do have investor relations. Now increasingly, we communicate with people on Twitter and via the latest RNS’s but if we don’t know who you are, I’m sorry I can’t answer that question. The second part is, why don’t we have a base in the UK where questions can be asked, well they could be submitted through our website through email@example.com and that’s the way to do it. We are actually very proud of not having an office for the reasons which Rob quite correctly identified.
Your company has raised funds recently via a placing. The share price is constantly suffering from 12p to 1.5p. How can you re-assure investors, that there will not be a consolidation of President Energy?
I’ll just answer that direct question. The fact of consolidation we interpret in that question as consolidating it, so instead of having ten shares you end up with one share at 10 times the value of the original shares and the answer is that we have considered this but our current brokers have advised against consolidation to high value share and leaving our shares as a penny share and that is their advice. If advice or views change as to the marketability of shares, then we would consolidate it. If that question, however, relates to a placing i.e. is there going to be a placing in the future, there is no placing which is envisaged in the future currently at this moment in time.
There is speculation that you may take President Energy private and de-list from LSE. Can you confirm if these rumours are correct?
Yes, there are rumours. Yes, I’ve been asked the question and my answer to that is that there are no current plans to do.
Would you be interested in raising further monies via a placing to a corporate investor ? If so, we would be interested.
Well, the answer is that we don’t envisage any more placings, and if people want to become shareholders in us then there is lots of liquidity in the market and please do invest in our shares.
Would President consider a merger or a tie up with another company ?
We never say never, so everything is on the table but there are no present plans to do so.
Are you interested in buying more O&G assets or are you only interested in obtaining licenses from the Argentina government ?
We are interested in buying appropriately producing hydrocarbon assets and it may or may not include as a subset of that taking on licences from the provinces, not from the government in Argentina, but also want to flag the point, that this may not simply be relating to Argentina. We are looking elsewhere, although there is nothing material there to talk about the moment.
Are you looking at other countries to expand operations ?
Yes, we are, but it’s inappropriate at this moment in time to say where or when. I also think that it’s fair to say that the emphasis going forward will be on the word in our title Energy. Energy includes many things and we are opening our eyes to the word energy and every aspect of energy.Beyond that I can’t say
What is the exit plan if any for President Energy ?
Let’s get the share price, let’s get the value up, let’s get the perception up and let’s make it much more of a success and go from strength to strength and then we can look at potential exit structures or otherwise. The most important thing at this moment in time, is the company, is its welfare, its growth organically and by way of the right acquisitions.
What latest shareholding % stake do senior mgt have in President?
Yes, it’s on our website actually. It’s about 30.5% in relation to the management itself and Trafigura own just over 16%. It is on our website and anyone that wants specific details, please refer to that .
Would you consider selling assets for profit taking and then re-investing the profits in purchasing other undervaluing assets.
You have advised previously that President have been selling oil continuously, but have not received the $45 criollo barrel price since the decree was passed in May 2020. I have read a report that the Nequèn province is pursuing oil companies which have sold oil below the $45 price for royalties it may have lost out on. Will this have an adverse effect on President?
Well, if the province’s insist and it is enforceable in law, which we doubt because there is judicial precedent to say it’s not enforceable that the provinces, and will get $45 it won’t necessarily because at the end of the day, our management accounts provide for the fact that this is a contingent liability, the difference between the price that we actually get for our oil, which is at the moment less than $45 and the $45 price. However, as I said there’s clear judicial precedent. There’s many or gas companies in similar situations who aren’t, most of them in fact, who are paying the $45, sorry don’t pay royalty on the basis of the $45 but it won’t affect us in any material way. As I said, we are already providing for that in our management accounts and in our modelling. Naturally, it’s in our best interest to maintain what we consider to be the legal position, which is we pay royalties based on the amount of realisations that we actually receive. So that is quite correct. There is a debate at the moment between certain provinces, but will it affect it in any material way, no because we provide for it in any event as a contingent liability
Regarding the gas production in Rio Negro which will hopefully have risen considerably this year, are you able to provide the netback gas price/boe and how will any possible gas price floor decree ($3.50 per MmBTU) effect President's future investment decisions?
Currently, we are selling gas and in two main directions. First of all, in conjunction with Trafigura in conjunction with them to CAMMESA, which is the main power national power company through the auctions which were successful in in winning with other companies as well. Secondly, direct to other power companies. The average at this moment, and I’m talking about June slash July is approximately $2.6 to $2.7 per 1,000,000 BTU. The 3.50 which is referred to in that question is a publicised proposed amount payable in a gas plan promoted, it’s rumoured, alleged by the government to ensure that there is not going to be a deficit in Gas going forward.
My particular view and the view of people are far cleverer than me is that there will be a deficit going forward because the fact that the amount of drilling and investments has virtually disappeared in Argentina. Argentina is a domestic market, a growing market, it needs gas it imports gas it’s not an exporter.
So, I think it’s inevitable that the gas price will go up. I think it’s inevitable that there will be a plan. But the gas plan and how much paid is part of the debate and whether that amount of 3.50 per million BTU is going to paid for accretive gas over and beyond the existing gas production of the company is again subject to debate. I’d rather not comment on that, because the moment there’s no law about it there’s no provision about it and therefore at this moment in time, we are predicated on figures off 2.62 / 2.72 and we are in wintertime. and it’s getting colder. So, it’s probably going to go up. Next year will it go up in our view another. Yes, it will, in our view. Also, in our view, traditional differential between summer and the winter, which was very significant over 100% in previous years will actually erode and it will erode because of the deficit in gas, which is now in our view is inevitable coming in because of the lack of investments now and as Rob has quite correctly said there’s very little drilling activity going on, I believe last week, there was only five drilling rigs being used and all those oil rigs were unconventional, as everyone knows we are solely conventional and we I believe will be one, if not the first company, to start drilling conventional wells again in Argentina, when we start drilling targeted for mid to end of September
What is the level of current production broken down into oil & gas (BOEPD)?
We haven’t published that. Therefore, we have a limit to what we can say at present. What Robert indicated in the presentation, you can see it is in black and white it’s there.Robert said that we will give guidance as to not just this year, but next year, as soon as practical, which will be in the not too distant future. So that’s all I can say. It will be forthcoming, but we can’t do it now. If we’re going to give these figures, we’re going to get these figures to everyone not just to a selective audience.
There is a clear focus on Rio Negro but is there any further progress on Puesto Guardian?
The answer’s no. There is a clear focus on Puesto Flores at this moment in time Puesto Guardian just ticks over. Our concentration there is margin and how to extract as much money as possible. It’s fair to say that we’ve got a lot of oil in storage there which we can keep in storage for a long time. You know, oil is like a bank vault doesn’t go bad, providing it’s kept well, and we feel we that producing it and storing it rather than selling it is the best thing, waiting for events to happen.
Given the company says it is profitable, when will it declare or commit to declaring a dividend?
Well, certainly not this year we’ll revisit it next year
Given the success that Peter and the Team have achieved in an operational and asset level what are the key the reasons that the market continuously undervalues PPC share compared to peers who are in a much weaker condition?
It’s an excellent question. It’s a question I can’t answer. All we can do our end is articulate and re articulate and re articulate again the messaging as to the company and its credibility. Trafigura wouldn’t become a member of this company if they were confident as to management and its future. They are one of the cleverest people in the room to coin a phrase. They know what we do. They know what we produce. They knew how we produce. They know our fields they’ve been to our fields, full stop, end of story I think that’s self-evident.
Will PPC consider investing in renewables or clean Energy ?
Does the company have a hedging policy
We do but we don’t have any at the moment. We’re waiting to see where it’s going. I think that we and a lot of other commentators as well as industry are looking at the current oil price being range bound at this moment in time and therefore the risk is to the upside, there more chance of it going up because of the crisis than necessarily going down. We don’t see it plummeting to the depths of stupid depths that did say in April. So we are always alert to it
Thank for the update as a non shareholder very useful. Would you consider a dual listing ?
As I said, we’re open minded never say never. We certainly have alluded to the fact that we’re looking at an Argentine listening in the past. But this is a new normal, our share value, is frankly pathetic, in my view and not reflective of the company and at this moment in time, I think it would not be appropriate to look at a dual listing because any dual listing would include having to issue shares on that particular market and frankly, with a market cap of our size at the moment I think it’s inappropriate. Get the get the company to reflect its actual position never mind its potential and we would look at it.
What is your strategy for gas vis a vis sales opportunities to create economies of scale in production and unlock additional reserves? And how do you plan to ensure minimal balance sheet impact (working cap) with the credit worthiness of offtakers?
The principle off taker for oil is Trafigura and we don’t have an issue there. For gas the main off taker is the main national power company. We don’t have an issue there. The only issue on the downside is they tend to pay a bit later than normal. So, going back to the hedging, actually, we do. Because they’re paying later than normal in pesos, we you have a policy about trying to protect the value of the peso a depreciating market. But in terms of pesos that’s important. Economies of scale, you just produce more because we’ve got the pipeline. The infrastructure is add on infrastructure, which is compressors which were doing right at this moment in time in readiness for this. You can see are what are drilling is. You can see that our main focus of our first well and work overs is gas on our workers is gas. That is our focus, because we’re unbalanced. We believe that gas is something which is a future proof fuel, as far as Argentina is concerned on.
So, the opportunities are there, we’ve got opportunities within our organic structure. and that’s what we intend to do at this moment in time. Are we looking at opportunities which include gas going forward? The answer is yes. We don’t close our eyes to that at all
Are you exposed to YPF risk at all? It is quite well publicised that YPF has stopped paying non-domestic companies - do you (a) see this And (b) does it directly affect PE?
YPF has not stopped paying non domestic companies where there is a dispute. YPF have certainly reduced the payment to non domestic companies in terms of outstanding monies. So, for example, if a company is owed X they may have been offered X minus one or something like that. Frankly this happening in every industry because of this crisis. But the bottom-line answer is we are not exposed to YPF risk at all, we’ve got no association with YPF. They are neither our off taker, they never been our off taker we don’t sell to them in any. Whether its gas or oil we’re not linked to them. We don’t have joint ventures with them and we’re not a customer of theirs nor are we a supplier of theirs
What do you think to the Exmar FLNG export project? Interesting or science fiction?
I’ll answer any question on President Energy
Paraguay drilling/ farm out
After the drilling failures in 2014, is there any prospectivity left in Paraguay?
Yes, significant and the more work we do the more we appreciate how compelling the exploration opportunity is. But this is exploration, it is inherently risky. It has to be remembered that this is a new frontier. It is not unusual in such cases that there is initial failure from which one learns and we have learnt a lot both operationally and sub surface. On the former with our successful Argentine management handling the operations and with the experience gained in all areas, significant savings and efficiencies will be achieved
Whilst elements of the 2014 drilling program were indeed disappointing, it was by no means a failure. In fact, two logged discoveries in the deeper more expensive Paleozoic formations were made in the second well but structural issues down hole prevented testing
Since then, President has focused on de-risking a number of Cretaceous opportunities that have certain characteristics in common with the prolific producing fields across the border in Argentina
Taking into account the previous events we have carried out extensive work to proof test the concept continuing right up to now
Recent remapping, geophysical re-interpretation, analogue comparisons with data from the Argentine side, geochemical and AVO studies over highgraded prospects provide support for charge/migration of hydrocarbons into what there are undoubtedly structures with what shows as successful sealing
One well is planned, targeting one such prospect to commence operations at or around the third quarter 2020 which will mean that the major expense will fall into 2021 and accordingly will not affect in any way our plans for growth in our producing areas this year
In parallel a farm out process is continuing with parties signed to NDA’s. You will appreciate when we say that there can be however no guarantee that any farm out will happen. The farm out process does not affect the plans of President in this regard.
Will you be able to provide a tabular schedule of monthly bopd, including $/bbl and ‘net backs’?
President is always looking at ways to clarify and refine the best way to report its figures and will bear this in mind when drafting results in future. However, we will not be issuing monthly figures as they give an unrepresentative and misleading view of field production which can ebb and flow, particularly as extensive work continues in the fields with wells shut in and then restarted to facilitate this.
What is the timeline?
At the moment it remains on hold but is not forgotten
Will the company start to pay dividends, if so when?
The Company has made significant progress over the last year. Whilst the topic of payment of dividends is anticipated to be considered during 2020, at the present time it is sensible to apply our free cash flow in continuing to grow the company to a stage where meaningful, stable dividends can be paid without affecting our growth and proportionate to our financial resources and facilities at the relevant time. The cash flow is targeted to have meaningful growth rates with a progressive pay down of debt; the continuance of this will lead to a sustainable dividend policy in the not too distant future.