2020 Unaudited Group Management Report Q&A on InvestorMeetCompany platform – 22nd February 2021
Is it possible to translate for the investor what the gas production translates to in money terms rather than BOEPD?
You mention "Paraguay exploration PMean internally estimated at in excess of 536 MMbo undiscovered oil-in-place" in the RNS on 8 February. Mentioning this seems in contrast to your other messages that Paraguay should not be factored into any valuation of the company. Can you elaborate on any progress made to the farm out in Paraguay? If this is not possible can give us a indication of how you would rate the chance of success?
Trafigura has been on board for a while now. Can you give us an example of where they have had an impact on PPC since they've been involved?
Oil prices, at the time of writing are $60 a barrel, how well placed are the company to benefit from this pricing level if it remains throughout 2021? To what extent has any capacity already been forward sold at a lower price?
If the company wishes to see the shares re-rated, isn't the answer to declare a dividend? It says it is generating cash.
Are you able to quantify the amount of oil you have in the undrained structure after drilling Evn-x1. Guidance was for between 5 and 14 million barrels. Thank you.
How much oil is now being produced and what is the split between Salta and Rio Negro?
You have quantified the odds of success for several previous drilling projects. What odds for commercial success would you give for drilling in Paraguay?
Is the macro economic situation in Paraguay similar to that in Argentina.
Atome- I understand there is little you can reveal re this venture at this v early stage but can you give some idea of the budget for spend in this area in 2021 please?
Just to confirm, will ALL the 4 new gas wells drilled in Las Bases be scheduled to be online by End May 2021?
when you publish figures of oil and gas production numbers can you show them separately, thanks
Are you able to transport 3rd party gas though the new pipeline and process 3rd party oil with the new treatment plant.
How do you see oil prices going through the year?
Do you expect that current plan and if Paraguay is a success will able us to distribute dividends to shareholders towards the end of 2022?
With oil prices increasing, production increasing, what do you see holding the valuation of the business back
Q&A in response to ‘Group Reserves and Resources as at 31 December 2020’ announcement – 8th February 2021
How should investors interpret the RNS on reserves as at 31 December 2020?
Positively. 2020 was a traumatic year globally and in particular for our industry. It has involved significant write downs and changes for many companies. One could say 2020 was a lost year for the industry. The RNS demonstrates President has after an independent audit, robust reserves and a clear road map whereby reserves can be increased significantly expeditiously.
So why have 2P reserves as at 31 December gone down from last year?
(i) Reserves have been produced during the year (ii) limited investment in drilling took place affected by pandemic related factors (iii) in turn in our core producing assets this affected the aggregate hydrocarbons capable of being produced with one year less in the present contract terms, hence the reduction.
Was there a different and higher oil price assumption in the previous year’s audit?
Yes. No one could have anticipated at year end 2019 the effect of the pandemic on oil prices in 2020. That is why as at 31 December we are still taking a conservative view of Brent this year at US$50 per barrel when the current price is approximately US$60 and many forecasters are viewing commodity prices positively. In fact, we expect to receive about US$52 for our Rio Negro oil this month and about the same for our US oil.
Should investors be concerned as to the reduction of reserves?
Not at all. President is behaving responsibly also in limiting its reserves under the report only to the existing contract terms even though we have the enshrined legal right to extend such licence and are resolved to do so. Many companies do not do this.
Has the actual oil and gas in the ground been determined to be reduced?
No, there are no reservoir factors involved. The same oil and gas volumes are present in the “tank” as contemplated before.
So, will this be reflected at a later stage?
Yes. As stated in the announcement, once the term of the core concession at Puesto Flores/Estancia Vieja is extended by another 10 years then this allows contingent resources as set out in the announcement to transition to reserves.
When do you expect such extension?
We are working towards the end of this year.
Does that mean then on such extension the reserves will automatically increase somewhat beyond even the year end 2019 figure?
Yes, that is what we anticipate.
In Salta, where the Company's licence is until 2050 reserves have gone down. Why?
Reserves have been produced during the year and also a lack of drilling due to the lower commodity prices discussed previously.
How do you intend that this will change?
We are pleased to be planning to return to drilling this year with 2/3 wells producing wells and a 3D seismic acquisition programme.
How will this affect the reserves in Salta?
Positively. In a success case for drilling and seismic, it will both support and increase reserves by demonstrating long term produceability and life of the fields there. We are encouraged by the potential in that field and have renewed optimism that the planned programme will see a material increase in returns for the Company.
How do you view this year?
Positively with many work streams and projects. We will update the market on 22 February ahead of the Investor Meet Company Presentation.
Q&A from an interview with Peter Levine, Chairman, on DirectorsTalk – ‘significant organic potential in their fields’ (Wednesday 9th December 2020)
Peter, you made an announcement on the London Stock Exchange, can you just summarise what was said and what it means for President Energy?
The announcement was to say that production had hit 4,000 boe from our various fields, that’s net group production and that means net to us after deducting the share of all minority interests that we have in certain of our fields.
The daily rate itself, which we announced, which is a commendable one and a commendable increase is a daily rate that we’ve achieved and in which we feel is a level that is unachievable on a normal basis, obviously daily rates fluctuate and one shouldn’t rely simply on a daily rate but instead rely on the average over a period of time.
To achieve that milestone, as it were, is a significant step as far as the company is concerned. Now, what we’ve said in the announcement is that step has been achieved by materially increasing gas, the oil and gas is split roughly 50/50 in this instance, and oil is pretty steady and the gas has come up a fair amount.
Of course, whilst we get a certain amount of dollars per barrel, it’s wrong to say that that dollar per barrel for example, in terms of oil 42, is the same as a barrel of oil equivalent, the boe in this instance is gas. So, you can’t say for example, we’re doing 2,000 boe per day of gas that we’re actually getting 42 dollars a barrel, it’s doesn’t work like that and I would refer the listeners to our twitter account which explains the difference in monetary terms between a barrel of oil and a barrel of, effectively, gas equivalent.
The important thing that we’re drawing attention to is the capability of our fields and how far we’ve come in such a short period of time in terms of production of gas, whether it’s from the existing wells or from, indeed, just one of the new wells.
It’s worth pointing out that one of the two successful wells that we’ve drilled recently, over the last two months, is not included in that figure that we’ve announced and it’s not included because it’s not yet on, it should be on before the end of the year. Likewise, the most recent workover success that we’ve done, LB-1, Las Bases 1, is also not included as is also will only be on during the course of this current month, December.
So, it’s progress that can be made and, as I said in the commentary, it’s significant progress, 4,000 boe split 50/50 but what it does show is it underlines to the potential that we’ve got in our fields. In that announcement, we did flag the point that we’re now actively looking at potentially drilling shallow wells in our Rio Negro in Argentina as well as our Salta producing field which is a long term licence. We’ve neglected for a bit because we’ve been concentrating on Rio Negro where we are actively looking and discussing with our contractors in relation to how we can drill this field in the most economic way. There’s lots of reserves there and there’s lots of potential to get out of the ground.
All in all, it’s a progress report, significant in terms of the headline but more significant in terms of what actually it finds. It demonstrates the fact of the significant potential that we have organically in our fields and the upside and basically points to a year of 2021 where we’ve got lots of things to exercise our mind as well as exercise our hands.
You talked about drilling wells and more infrastructure, is there a placing on the horizon?
No, absolutely not. Not a lot of people have said in the past and, factually it’s correct we’ve done a lot of placings and we have, I’m not going to deny that but likewise I’m also going to deny that we did placings for good reason. At that point in time, we weren’t that much bank-friendly first of all, and second of all we were doing this to acquire assets which we did and that is really important.
In the past, yes, we’ve done this but I can categorically state to your listeners that the infrastructure works that we’re doing and the drilling that we’re planning will not be funded out of any placing. There’s no need to do that because we’ve got debt capacity and now that we’ve got that to use in expansion mode then we’ll certainly consider using that as appropriate. I do not rule out using that debt capacity to fund that work programme as well as, of course, the positive cash flow that we’re generating ourselves.
I notice that you haven’t mentioned Paraguay in the update, is there any update on operations going on in that country?
Yes, that’s very observant, I didn’t and the reason I didn’t is because I think it’s even better to underplay this and manage expectations. Having that said, I’ve got to say that the work going on behind the scenes in relation to this potential farm-out should not be underestimated, there is significant work going on behind the scenes in a number of areas relating to the farm-out discussions we’re having with one particular substantial party.
It’s proceeding and I also want to make the point to your listeners who may not be aware of the history of our company and Paraguay, that the value proposition of Paraguay remains the same as it was in 2012, 2013 and 2014. It’s just that we drilled two wells, they were commercially unsuccessful but we learned a lot, we saw the petroleum system and now we’re fishing in the pond that we should ‘ve fished in in Paraguay. It is exploration and therefore, I say to you that the value proposition is still there.
I also say to you that people who come on board President Energy shouldn’t be coming on board our company for that exploration, it is at the moment purely speculative. The situation may change if and when we do the farm-out but at this point in time, it’s on the back burner, it’s every bit as interesting and worthwhile in terms of value as it was a few years ago.
As I said, it’s probably most prudent at this moment in time to underplay it because we’ve got so much else to talk about in terms of real production, real test flow and real potential that we don’t want to be seen to be morphing into an exploration company. We’ve got as much exploration as many companies who are worth a multiple of what we have who have only got exploration. Bearing in mind what’s happened in the past and the last few years, I think we’ve learned and we’ve learned our lesson, at the moment, underplay this particular asset that we have in Paraguay.
More about that in due course, in the not too distant future whether it’s going to be the end of this year or more likely in the first part of next year, I think these things will in due course come out.
Q&A from an interview with Peter Levine, Chairman, on DirectorsTalk – ‘Demonstrating the running room and potential in existing fields’ (Thursday 26th November 2020)
Now you’ve announced a testing success at Las Bases field in Argentina this morning. Peter, how does this impact on President Energy?
Well, we need to look at the history first. We drilled and we announced very recently, in October, Las Bases 1001, it’s a new development gas well and we achieved a good result, we announced that on the 26th of October which achieved a good result, both from the electric logs and testing.
Now those logs showed several pay zones, one of which was a cretaceous formation called the Centenario which was a shallow interval i.e. less than 1000 meters. Now, in Las Bases 1001 because our logs showed we had several intervals, as is normal we tested from the bottom up. Now, we happen to have a very good result from the lowest interval and therefore we decided to produce from that zone and leave the testing and production of a higher intervals until later. What we then did with the logs from the recently drilled well of Las Bases 1001, we then read across and considered the logs of the well drilled by our predecessors Chevron, called Las Bases 1, which they drilled in 1999.
It identified the same scenario, but it was present but they never produced from that, they produced from a lowest zone, a deeper zone, they prolifically produced gas but then it watered out. So, they shut in the well and that’s where it lay for several years until we decided to take a chance card from the monopoly pack and re-enter the well and perforate it, which we’ve now done, and test that Centenario section which had been, up till the time we tested it, completely undrained.
The results of such test is the result we’ve just announced and whilst it’s perhaps a tighter formation, even allowing for this, we tested a good commercial flow of gas as indicated in recent announcement today. It will be put on production by the year end and so Las Bases 1 will once again, after many years, be back onto production, albeit from a different level.
Now, as we can’t see any water nearby, it will be certainly a candidate for artificial stimulation which we expect would further significantly enhance the flow rigs. However, this is a test of an old well, it’s an intervention, it’s a well which hasn’t been produced, I’s a workover.
What is the importance of this? Well, the importance of this test is the read across because at this interval is widely present in the Las Bases field, it’s shallow, can therefore can be drilled quickly, for example, in 7-10 days, economically will cost us less to drill and we have all our infrastructure to plug in the new found production. So, it will have a significant impact.
Furthermore, there are no reserves currently booked for this interval so most certainly we will see in this year’s results report, which is due out in February, with an effective date of 31 December, a positive addition of both proved and probable reserves.
So, what does this demonstrate? This demonstrates the running room and the potential in our existing fields and that’s very important. The two wells that we’ve drilled, both successful, one, an exploration well which is EVN -x which we’re putting into production in the next few days and the other one, Las Bases 1001 combined with this test has demonstrated the fact that we have ample scope here for low cost, good margin production, onshore from our existing fields.
Wrap that all in one package and you can see that the test result have slightly more importance than a normal test result for perforating an old shutting well, hence the announcement that we just made.
So, what’s next and what news can we expect coming out over the next few weeks and months?
Well, I’ve alluded to the fact that we are starting to produce from the two wells that we just drilled which is Las Bases 1001 and EVN-x1, the latter being an oil well and the former being a gas. So, the next piece of news that we see will be to look at the initial production figures from those wells, we’ve got test production figures which we announced but not when we put these in line in production.
We anticipate being able to say something in the relatively near future and then we would be looking at announcing our plans for the forthcoming year a bit later on towards the end of this year.
So, in important terms, I think the next most important announcement will be showing the initial online production, taking into account the gas wells, taking into account the commissioning of the compressor, effectively bringing you on stream the Estancia Vieja well and the Las Bases well. Also, of course, the increase in oil, we hope, from EVN-x1 well, which as I said is, as we speak now being put into production.
In a nutshell, that’s where President Energy is at.
Q&A from an interview with Peter Levine, Chairman, on DirectorsTalk with regards to the testing success at new exploration well EVN-x1 (Monday 16th November 2020)
Now I understand that you’ve made an important announcement this morning, can you just talk us through the highlights?
It’s a very pleasing announcement for President Energy, actually, because what we’re announcing is the results of our testing of the exploration well which we successfully drilled in the last month and beginning of this month.
In Q4 drilling campaign, we’ve drilled two wells, one was a successful gas well which will be on stream at the end of this month but that was a development well. What I mean by that, as a development well is it was always a structure which has produced so all you’re doing is you’re developing further the hydrocarbons in that known producing structure.
However, what we’ve announced today on Estancia Vieja North exploration 1 well is completely different because this well was an exploration well, an exploration has substantially greater risks than a development well and it’d all down to delivery of the drilling and, of course, your subsurface team and not an insubstantial amount of luck and anybody who says that need luck in exploration, doesn’t understand exploration.
So, the bottom line here is that we have tested the well, we’ve already announced previously that we’ve logged two hydrocarbon intervals tools, one principally of oil and one with gas, the oil being the lower as is normal as your test from the bottom up.
We tested the oil and this was on a structure which has never been drilled before, never been identified as a structure, is near our existing Estancia Vieja field but it’s north of that, on the other side, and it never been touched.
What we’ve done is we’ve drilled it, as we’ve said before, and now we’ve tested it and oil has come to surface, actually free floating oil has come to surface. That means we’ve not stimulated it by swabbing, we’ve not stimulated by a pump, it’s just come up because of the pressure. It’s good quality oil, it’s 36 API, it’s light oil, and we’re very pleased with the results because obviously it’s a first and our medium pre-bill estimates, we’re looking at initial production over 200. Just how over 200, it will be wrong to say at this stage, we would prefer to err on the side of caution, simply because there’s no analogues, it’s alright testing at over 36 hours but in terms of longer term production, you want to see what’s going to happen to the reservoir, especially where there’s going to be water coming through and such like.
So, the good part of this is that we can call it a discovery, it’s an exploration well, if you’ve identified oil, you’ve found oil where no one has found oil before. It’s very good, it adds to our ability to produce overall, but not only that, it opens up the possibility of other wells on the structure which we are taking, again, a very careful view on. We’re looking at how the production profile goes over the next two or three months and then we’ve got a more educated and mature view of just the capability of this structure and down to this structure, we’ll be able to have at least one more oil well.
Now, it’s also important to note that we haven’t touched the gas interval which has been identified by the logs. Now, we’re pretty confident that that will produce but as we have, first of all, tested and produced from the lower oil section, there’s no point going up north as the gas will produce from the oil and, as and when it’s appropriate, for example, when the oil comes down to nothing or not material amounts, then we’ll look at going up the scale and up the hole and then we’ll perforate and we’ll test.
We feel pretty confident we’ll produce the gas as well when that should be producing likewise, at a pretty significant rate because we can see from analogues, the productivity of gas here. That’s a bit more consistent than certainly the oil which, again I say, was something that we projected but it’s very nice to find.
So, all in all, a success, and it’s a not insignificant success, it is very nice to find oil where other people, and there have been other people investigating these blocks in the past, our predecessors have not produced any oil from.
So, what does this mean for the company then?
Well, it opens up a new structure for us which is interesting because we’re always hungry to increase our organic assets and this is an organic asset and it demonstrates that we’ve got running room in our existing assets.
So, we’re going to wait and see, it will, of course, immediately mean that lift in our production, just how much, again we can’t say.
By the way, I did forget to mention for which I apologise, but at the same time it’s producing oil from the section, it also produced associated gas so this is not a gas section but the gas comes with the oil and the gas itself is not also insubstantial either. We’re going to monetise that gas so we’re going to be selling that gas in due course, and because it’s relatively near Estancia Vieja main infrastructure to be able to put it on production, it’s going to be very quick, and it’s all going to be in the next 14 days.
So, it means immediate production, in the medium term it gives us prospectivity for that structure as a whole, and it gives us a bit of an enthusiasm in our step in terms of where we go. It’s very nice to do and especially because we brought this well on time and on budget.
What are the next steps? I know you said they’re going to bring it on in 14 days, what next?
As well as this one in 14 days, we’ve got the well that we just drilled previously, the first well which is Las Bases 1001 and that comes on stream at the end of the month and that’s, in terms of barrels of oil equivalent, it’s a gas well, about 600 barrels of oil equivalent. So, you can see it’s all adding up, we’re all putting points on the board, as it were here.
We’re going to be doing another workover of another gas well in Las Bases, we’ll see how that goes, speculative but with what the success in Las Bases 1001 has done is it has suggested that we have got more running room in Las Bases. So, if this works, the next workover, we’ve got at least another workover and at least another well to drill in Las Bases.
So again, it’s a bit of a domino effect really about the things that we can do.
So, what next? Well, we’re nearly at the end of the year so we’ve got that work to do, those wells to be putting on, that production to increase both gas and oil. Therefore, that gives us a bit more spring in our step in terms of the exit year production but we’re not really interested in exit year production, we’re more interested in average year going forward in 2021.
In 2021, what this does is gives us the belief, the strength, and the conviction to be drilling as we said in our presentation, which I invite your listeners to look at on our website, the latest presentation, where we talk about next wells.
We’ve got three in Rio Negro in Argentina to drill which are on the blocks, we’ve got two in Salta and we like the look of Salta, we’ve been re-costing it, the price we want has come down and we still got that one in Paraguay.
So, there’s lots of running room and these are all organic, ignoring anything else that we may be acquiring in due course and as you listeners may know, and those who’ve read the presentation, we do have running room in terms of financial flexibility. We’ve got minimal debt and we would certainly not rule out there being the right acquisitions in due course but it’s got to be the right acquisitions, particularly bearing in mind that we’ve got all this running room organically.
Finally, what else can investors expect over the coming months from President Energy? Is there anything that they should be looking out for in terms of other news flow?
Yes, we anticipate talking about the putting online of production of this well and seeing how it’s going, this is all before the end of the year, the putting online of the gas wells, the final installation of the compressors and the facilities and the commencement of infrastructure planning on a not insignificant project to reduce our opex which we’ll talk about in due course.
I don’t anticipate any news before the end of the year in the advanced discussions that we’re having on Paraguay, on the exploration, I might be surprised but I want to manage expectations. Fingers crossed, it’s not done until the fat lady sings. So far so good on those discussions but absolutely no guarantee, people shouldn’t invest on the basis of that, certainly I wouldn’t recommend it. Having said that, from an internal point of view, we’ve been working hard at it.
So that is where we’re coming from, we’re going to be announcing production wells and well plans, probably the end of January or thereabouts, we’ll be talking about the actual concrete plans for drilling in 2021 but certainly, there will be drilling in 2021.
What we’ve got to look forward to now, between now and the end of the year, is announcements on the fruits of our labour this year in rising to the challenges of COVID and protections for our people and expanding our offering in terms of production.
Q&A from an interview with Peter Levine, Chairman, on DirectorsTalk from Monday 9th November 2020.
Peter, this is the first time that we’ve spoke on Director’s talk, can you give us a little background on what President Energy does?
The company is an international oil and gas company, we produce in Argentina and America with exploration in Argentina and Paraguay. We’ve got a significant independent audited preserves, 16 million barrels of proven reserves, 26 million of proved and probable reserves and there is a 500 million of exploration resources.
We actually are successful in replacing our reserves and we’ve replaced our reserves by 167% since the end of 2017. Our average production estimation, we estimate for 2020 for the year is 2,850 to 3000 of barrels of oil equivalent, that’s oil and gas, and in 2021, we’re estimating projecting between 3000 to 4,000 barrels of oil equivalent. That’s not a forecast, these are simply management guidance and estimates.
We have material upside in our assets, which we own, we own all our assets, all our fields, all are onshore and all are conventional. We own our pipelines and infrastructure to get into the market, over 120 kilometres of pipeline we own and operate, of which a good part of it we’ve built ourselves.
All our fields are profitable, we have significant strategic investment, besides myself, I own 29.95%, just shy of 30%, and we have Trafigura. Trafigura is one of the leading international commodity traders and logistics companies in the world with $117 billion dollars of turnover, they own 16% of us, they’re our strategic partner and, of course, with their assistance, we are able to secure the end market for our products, something very crucial.
We are manically focused on driving down costs, we’re a low cost producer, we focus on cashflow, margins and decreasing G&A, we don’t have any kind of Head Office in the UK, we work above the shop wherever we are producing. We have a balanced business of gas and oil and we’ve got real class ESG – Environmental, Social, and Governance – management.
Our core production is in Argentina and I invite your audience, if they’re interested to learn more about us, to go onto our website and/or as well go on to our Twitter account.
Now let’s come up front with Argentina. Most people have heard major macro issues, yes, there’s an economic downturn, yes, coronavirus has hit them very hard, ironically, they’re coming out of it now, summer cases are decreasing and people are out on the streets.
From a strategic point of view, our industry is vital to Argentina. First of all, our production is taken up by domestic demand, the government support our industry, it protects our industry against imports, it gives price support, we’re a dollar-based business and we don’t have any material foreign exchange exposure. We get paid by our customers at the exchange rate at the time that our money is paid, not the invoice date, the time our customers pay us, that’s the exchange rate. Obviously, we are very good at treasury management, as you can see from the recent interim accounts.
In the hydrocarbon-rich basement of Neuquen, which is our main area in Argentina, we’ve got five fields, we’ve got pipeline infrastructure, we’ve got facilities, mostly which are computerised. In the last two months, we’ve drilled in times of crisis and safely, we’ve drilled two successful wells, one a production well which is going on stream shortly and another one, which is a discovery world and we’ve made a very promising identification of oil and gas in that well, which we’ll be testing in the next few weeks.
In the North, we operate in Salta, that’s near The Andes, where we’ve got a large field which we need, next year, to be drilling and we also operate a production facility in Louisiana, in America.
As I said, each one of our fields, independently, is profitable.
Finally, in terms of where our assets lie, we’ve got very significant exploration assets in Paraguay and, as we speak, we’re in advanced discussions with a national oil company to farm into that asset with a view to drilling and an exploration in 2021.
So, what are our plans for the future going forward, just telling you a bit about the company?
Next year, it’s more well, looking at farm out in Paraguay, building infrastructure, therefore increasing production, cost-effective production and we’ve got the financial capacity for the right acquisition.
Why? Because crucially, we don’t have any material third party financial debt, we had a deliberate policy at the beginning of this year to reduce debt, we’ve reduced it by some 50% from the start of the year, 60% from the same period last year, and therefore our debt to third parties is minimal.
My private office, my family office, is financial due diligence for the company if it needs it and apart from that, we got financial flex and financial capability to grow.
We’ve looked at renewables, we will do that, if it only makes sense, we’re not going to go at it and I’m going to say to you quite clearly, we’re not ashamed, we’re an oil and gas company. We fulfil a need for markets where we are, we employ people and what we’re particularly proud of is, throughout this crisis, we have not shut a single well, we’ve kept producing, we’ve kept employing all our people, not one person has been laid off, not one person has been furloughed.
We’re well-managed and we ensure that we run our business for the right reasons, not for ego, we run our business for profits, for cashflow and for developing for the future and we’ve got the assets and determination to do it.
Hopefully, that gives you a snapshot.
What do you see as the greatest challenges to your business?
The greatest challenge is to make sure that we keep our costs down whilst increasing our production. There’s certain things that we can’t affect; we cannot affect the international price, we cannot affect the domestic ore price or the domestic gas price. What we can do is make sure that we plan ahead, we certainly see that for example, next year, we see that there’s going to be a gas deficit in Argentina, we see that prices are going to be quite robust.
So, what we’ve done is we’ve switched our emphasis in developing the growth in hydrocarbons from oil, to gas whilst still trying to increase our oil a bit more but, certainly, some of the emphasis is going to be on gas because we see the gas prices rise.
What we need to do is make sure that we conduct our business in the right way, grow our production, which we can do, keep a cap on our costs, try to reduce our costs, you can always look at making more efficiencies. In terms of risk, we don’t see a risk in our markets, frankly, because Argentina is effectively starting step by step, very, very slowly, teeny baby steps, to get out of this crisis, as I’ve said, in the southern hemisphere we’re coming out of the crisis now. Whilst planes are starting to fly, people on the street, Buenos Ares looks very very lively, people are having coffees and eating, people are traveling so we can see that it’s starting to grow.
But if you’re talking about the risks, ensuring that, whilst we’re growing, we nail down our costs, we procure correctly, we partner with our customers, we partner with our contractors and we manage our business efficiently. Those are the factors which drive our business and effectively, cashflow, cashflow, cashflow, positive cashflow as it is now.
What do you see as the greatest opportunities in your business? I think you’ve just touched on one but what do you see as the greatest opportunities?
Well, we’ve got opportunities within our portfolio, within our portfolio we’ve already identified Paraguay. We’ve effectively bought a very expensive ticket to the market in Paraguay, we spent $100 million of our money in 2012 to 2014, we identified the petroleum system but we came second i.e. we didn’t actually get a commercial well. We actually, ironically, have now identified the best well, which is the well we didn’t drill, which is the one that we’re looking forward to drilling in 2021. So, there are opportunities there, and there are opportunities in our existing core businesses in Argentina.
In terms of external opportunities, as I said, we’ve got the financial flex because we have driven down on net debt to be able to look at other acquisition opportunities, together with our strategic partner Trafigura, who is, as I said, one of our major off-takers.
So, these are the opportunities that we’re looking at for next year particularly, we see that there’s going to be many more opportunities next year, as perhaps larger companies are driven by the ESG requirements of the larger companies to dispose of some of their, for them, non-core activities.
We will not restrict ourselves simply to Argentina, we’ve got deep experience of oil and gas throughout the world, hydrocarbons and, as I said to you, in terms of renewables, if there’s something comes up, that’s fine but it won’t be simple buying an annuity.
Finally, around two years ago, your share price was above 10 pence, it’s now sitting at about 1.5 pence. What’s happened in the business in those two years?
What’s happened in the business in the last two years? Whilst that price share price has gone down, President Energy has increased production significantly, we’ve increased our asset base very significantly, we have extended our understanding of our areas, we have extended our management expertise, and the old prices happened effectively and external forces like certain of our shareholders selling down so those are the factors.
If you’re looking at the progress that’s been made in the last two or so years, the net debt that we have now is minimal compared to what we have before, the financial debt is very, very small and therefore our capabilities have significantly increased. If I look at the company two years ago, when our share price 10 pence, and now at 1.5p, it absolutely bears no comparison. We are significantly better in our management, in our extent, in our assets, in our reserves and in our production and in our potential so that’s what’s happened in two years now.
We are looking here for the long-term, we’re in for the long haul, I am and management is as well. If you mind your own business, which we are doing, then the rest will come right, I’ve identified where we’re at and we have great faith in our company, we’ve got great potential and, as I’ve already said, that is evident. If you look at our website, there’s a video on our website showing some of our assets, slightly out of date, but it will give you a taste of where our assets are and also on our Twitter, which we keep up to date regularly.
So, there’s lots of interest going forward, we’ve got lots of interesting things and we’ve got news coming up, of course certainly going to be testing that discovering well, which is very promising at the moment. Nevertheless, we can’t have an eye for the market all the time, we’ve got to explain why share price is where it is but the most important thing for us and management, is mind you our own business and value will come.
Q&A from Investor Meet Company presentation (26 October 2020) on Interim Results for H1 2020
All answers are given by President Energy Chairman, Peter Levine, and Group FD, Rob Shepherd.
In your opinion, what is the underlying reason for the continued poor share price, despite the excellent work recently undertaken by President?
What is the sensitivity around Oil price in Argentina ie for every $1 increase in price - how would this positively affect the share price. the same must be true of the gas price. Views?
Please refer to audio clip above
What is the forecast cashflow for the next 2 quarters and do you expect existing and forecast cashflows to be sufficient for your continued operations?
At today's gas prices, what do you estimate the payback period for LB-1001 to be?
Any news on potential acquisitions that you can share?
Are you seeing an increase in the appetite for M&A in South America?
There has been a certain amount of bulletin board chatter suggesting that there is some kind of legal uncertainty hanging over the Company's involvement in Paraguay. Are there any legal problems in relation to Paraguay and of which the Company shareholders should be informed?
Can you give some guidance re the current oil and gas prices you are getting in Argentina for production?
Do we have any further liabilities re the Louisiana asset we have relinquished?
Can you shed any light on Presidents renewable strategy?
Do you have a plan B if the Paraguay farm out talks fail?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 2021, 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.