Unconventional oil producer PetroBakken Energy Ltd. plans to spend $800 million in 2011 to boost output from 42,500 barrels of oil equivalent per day to between 46,000 and 49,000 boe/d.

That's a growth rate of 7.6 to 15.3 per cent.



"Our growth profile will again all be in light oil as we continue to develop in the Bakken and the Cardium," president and chief operating officer Gregg Smith told a webcast conference in New York Tuesday morning.

The Calgary-based company announced overnight that it has budgeted $680 million for horizontal drilling and completions plus $120 million for land, seismic, well recompletions and administration expenses. It plans to drill about 200 net wells this year.

On the Toronto Stock Exchange, its shares were unchanged.

UBS analyst George Toriola said in a note that PetroBakken's capital plans were well ahead of his forecast of $650 million and consensus of $725 million.

He estimated that the company will outspend (including dividends) cash flow by $340 million, leaving it with $54 million of room on its $1.2 billion credit facility by year-end.

"PBN has some of the highest netbacks within their peer group, allowing them to benefit from the strength in oil price," he wrote. "However, given the company's financial gearing, the company remains at higher risk in the event of a pullback in crude prices."

PetroBakken invested heavily in the Alberta Cardium in early 2010, completing three acquisitions to become the second-largest landholder behind Penn West Petroleum Ltd.

"Since we started making these acquisitions, the Alberta government has changed the royalty structure which has dramatically improved the economics on our wells," Smith said.

"It probably adds about $1 million of net present value at 10 per cent to each of these well bores. So in the initial foray last year we spent $1.1 billion on three acquisitions. This change to the royalties paid for more than half of it."

This year, PetroBakken plans to spend $350 million to drill 95 net wells in the Cardium, with the majority limited to one well per section to prove up its acreage position.

In southeast Saskatchewan it plans 75 net wells, with 55 being bilateral wells into the Bakken, plus over 30 net conventional wells.

Smith said the company will continue to experiment with enhanced oil recovery, injecting cheap natural gas to recover oil following promising results from a pilot project in which carbon dioxide was injected.

He said he expects the company will look at using bilateral wells in the Cardium this year but it will have to clear higher regulatory hurdles to use the technique in Alberta than it did in Saskatchewan.

Source: Calgary Herald

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