CALGARY, Alberta, Nov. 10, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- NuVista Energy Ltd. (“NuVista” or the “Company”) (TSX:NVA) is pleased to announce results for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2020 and provide an update on our future business plans. NuVista continued its decisive action in the face of a challenging year for all of industry, through the progression of our COVID-19 safe operating plan, and the significant reduction of capital, operating, and G&A spending to ensure liquidity and balance sheet protection remain the top priority. We have continued to limit overall production to approximately 50,000 Boe/d for the present period in order to minimize natural production declines and to minimize the capital investment required to maintain flat production.  We have generated free adjusted funds flow which is right on track with our debt reduction targets.

Financial and Operational Performance

During the quarter ended September 30, 2020, NuVista:

  • Produced at a restricted daily average rate of 49,400 Boe/d, slightly less than the prior quarter, attesting to the strength and stability of our wells as no new capital activity was executed during the third quarter;
  • Announced the successful reduction of approximately 20% in our near-term minimum volume commitments (“MVCs”);
  • Achieved adjusted funds flow of $41.5 million ($0.18/share, basic);
  • Limited capital spending to $7.1 million, resulting in free adjusted funds flow of $34.4 million;
  • Reduced net debt by $34 million to $623 million, reducing bank drawings from $429 million to $393 million in line with our goal to reduce net debt by $50 - $60 million during the second half of 2020;
  • Successfully increased our total credit availability to $480 million by redetermining our credit facility with a capacity of $440 million, welcoming Export Development Canada (“EDC”) to our lending syndicate, and adding a $40 million EDC letter of credit support facility;
  • Realized operating expenses of $9.80/Boe; and
  • Achieved a net G&A expense of $0.65/Boe, a reduction of 25% from the prior period, due to cost reduction efforts, executive, board and staff salary reductions, and the benefit of the federal government CEWS program.

Safe and Steady Operational Execution

In response to the poor market conditions, NuVista continued to limit capital spending, with only minor infrastructure spending to complete projects already in flight. We have a total of 14 Montney wells that are drilled but uncompleted (“DUC”) and two successful Charlie Lake wells that are completed and awaiting tie-in.

In addition to the capital reductions, production was deliberately restricted over the quarter in anticipation of stronger prices in future quarters. We continued to manage production from the 15 wells that were completed in the first quarter to maintain a flat production profile at approximately 50,000 Boe/d. The quarter also included approximately 1,000 Boe/d of planned production downtime for a two week maintenance turnaround at the NuVista Wembley gas plant which occurs every four years. All producing wells are now online, and as expected we now have a modest production decline until the new Montney DUCs are expected to be completed and brought online early in the second quarter of 2021. With the further benefit of base production declines which are moderating to approximately 30% for 2021, our confidence is high in being able to manage production levels with minimal capital spending should oil prices remain low.

The construction of the new Pipestone North compressor station, ultimately capable of production capacity of 25,000 Boe/d, and the associated Veresen Hythe gas plant expansion, are progressing on schedule and under budget. They are anticipated to be ready for production well in advance of the commencement of production from the first 12-well Pipestone North pad early in the second quarter of 2021.

ESG – Environment, Social & Governance

We are pleased to announce that we have updated our website with our 2019 full year ESG results, with a number of areas progressing positively. We look forward to issuing a fully updated 2020 ESG report in mid 2021.

Focusing on the Balance Sheet

At September 30, 2020, NuVista had drawn $393 million on its credit facility. Additionally, NuVista has $220 million in senior unsecured notes that mature March 2, 2023, providing financial flexibility and certainty with a competitive fixed coupon and remaining 2.5 year term.   NuVista’s debt to adjusted funds flow ratio (trailing 12 months) was 3.5x at the end of the third quarter. This is temporarily above our target of 1.5x, hence the focus upon significant debt reduction via limiting capital spending and maximizing free adjusted funds flow.

We are pleased to announce that subsequent to the end of the third quarter, NuVista’s combined available credit was increased to $480 million, which is comprised of a recently completed semi-annual credit facility redetermination at $440 million and the previously announced separate $40 million unsecured letter of credit facility under EDC’s Account Performance Security Guarantee (“APSG”) program. Additionally, NuVista is pleased to welcome EDC to the credit facility syndicate. These combined facilities provide us more than sufficient liquidity to continue to execute our capital plans to maximize value. For the fourth quarter, our net debt is expected to further decrease by approximately $25-$30 million, resulting in year end estimated credit facility drawings of $370 to $380 million.

Significant Commodity Price Diversification and Risk Management

The onset of COVID-19 and the commodity price war of early 2020 have caused unprecedented reduction and volatility in the demand and prices for WTI oil, condensate, and natural gas. The worldwide and North American industry response has included massive cuts to capital programs, leading to significant destruction of future anticipated supply volumes. Worldwide production supply declines are expected to continue while demand recovers. As such, we anticipate that strip prices for WTI oil, condensate, and NYMEX natural gas will continue to improve with time.   NYMEX and AECO natural gas prices have already seen a significant increase during the fall of 2020, and this is expected to continue. WTI crude oil price recovery is more directly linked to post COVID-19 demand and as such continued volatility is expected in the near term.

NuVista is well hedged for the remainder of 2020 in accordance with our normal practices. In aggregate, approximately 70% of forecast condensate & oil production is protected for the remainder of 2020, utilizing 40% swaps at a WTI floor price of C$76.12/Bbl and a further 30% has protection by three way collars. Approximately 53% of forecasted natural gas production is hedged for the rest of 2020 at C$2.22/Mcf (hedged and exported volumes converted to an AECO equivalent price). All volume percentages refer to NuVista production net of royalty volumes. We note the positive revenue impact of the condensate & oil and natural gas hedges, both physical and financial, is approximately $11.6 million for the rest of the year using September 30, 2020 strip prices.

We have begun to hedge short term pricing cautiously, with 69% of first quarter 2021 oil & condensate production hedged utilizing swaps at a WTI floor price of C$54.57/Bbl.  Approximately 28% of forecast first quarter 2021 gas production is hedged utilizing a combination of swaps and costless collars with a NYMEX floor price of US$2.64/MMbtu and a ceiling price of US$3.11/MMbtu.  19% of summer 2021 gas prices are hedged utilizing a combination of swaps and costless collars with a NYMEX floor price of US$2.54/MMbtu and a ceiling price of US$2.62/MMbtu.

2020 Guidance

In light of the weak and volatile oil price environment, NuVista continues to significantly limit capital spending. Maintaining liquidity and balance sheet strength is our top priority during these unprecedented times. We remain on target to achieve free adjusted funds flow of $50 - $60 million during the second half of 2020, and this amount is being directed towards the reduction of debt. Capital spending guidance for 2020 has been rounded up slightly to the top of the $165 - $175 million guidance range, including fourth quarter spending guidance of $20 - $25 million. This has been done to accommodate the mobilization of one drilling rig and one frac crew late in the fourth quarter. The early mobilization of 2021 capital will reduce spring breakup risks for first quarter 2021 “stay flat” activities, and will ensure we secure premium crews and equipment.

Production guidance for 2020 is unchanged but tightened to 49,750 to 50,250 Boe/d, and production for the fourth quarter is expected in the range of 47,000 to 48,000 Boe/d.

2021 Guidance

We are living in uncertain times, and flexibility is required.  NuVista is committed to maintaining a balance between debt reduction and prudent growth. Guidance for 2021 includes a capital program of $180 - $200 million which will generate annual average production of 50,000 to 52,000 Boe/d. Assuming a flat WTI oil price of US$45/Bbl (1) for 2021 this plan is expected to be achieved within adjusted funds flow and maintain our path toward 10% compounded annual growth rate (“CAGR”) in production as per our previously communicated 5 year outlook. This trajectory exceeds our minimum volume commitments while generating 25% CAGR in adjusted funds flow per share. At oil prices above US$45/Bbl WTI, additional free adjusted funds flow will be allocated to the reduction of net debt.  Should prices retreat below US$40/Bbl WTI, we will reduce 2021 capital spending to approximately $140 million in order to maintain flat production of approximately 50,000 Boe/d while spending within adjusted funds flow at that price level.

During the first half of the year, production is expected to average approximately 50,000 Boe/d while capital expenditures will range from $95 - $110 million depending on commodity price strength. Spending will be directed to 14 drilled but uncompleted wells from 2020 and 8 additional new wells, all of which will be brought on-stream in the second quarter.  

NuVista’s COVID-19 business continuity plan is in place and is operating very well.  All staff have work-from-home technology capability, and a backup plan is in place to ensure minimum crews for safe field and facility operations in the event of an escalation of COVID-19.

NuVista has top quality assets and a management team focused on relentless improvement. We have the necessary foundation and sufficient liquidity to continue to manage our operations through the current uncertainty, and add significant value as commodity prices recover. We will quickly adjust to the changing environment in order to maximize the value of our asset base and ensure the long term sustainability of our business.  We would like to thank our staff, contractors, and suppliers for their continued dedication and delivery, and we thank our board of directors and our shareholders for their continued guidance and support.  Please note that our corporate presentation is being updated and will be available at www.nuvistaenergy.com on or before November 11, 2020.  NuVista’s financial statements, and management’s discussion and analysis (“MD&A”) for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2020, will be filed on SEDAR (www.sedar.com) under NuVista Energy Ltd. on November 10, 2020 and can also be accessed on NuVista’s website.

(1)Pricing assumptions include: NYMEX US$3.00/MMBtu; AECO $2.79/GJ, Condensate differential to WTI US$-1/Bbl, and a f/x rate of 1.35:1 (CAD/US)


       
Corporate Highlights    
 Three months ended September 30 Nine months ended September 30 
($ thousands, except per share and $/Boe)2020 2019 % Change 2020  2019 % Change 
FINANCIAL      
Petroleum and natural gas revenues105,708  138,771 (24)300,260  422,207 (29)
Adjusted funds flow (1) (2)41,484  59,799 (31)107,467  195,772 (45)
Per share - basic0.18  0.27 (33)0.48  0.87 (45)
Per share - diluted0.18  0.27 (33)0.48  0.87 (45)
Net loss(44,144)(7,650)477 (913,313)(34,276)2,565 
Per share - basic(0.20)(0.03)567 (4.05)(0.15)2,600 
Per share - diluted(0.20)(0.03)567 (4.05)(0.15)2,600 
Total assets   1,457,958  2,374,181 (39)
Capital expenditures (2)7,081  63,239 (89)156,578  249,008 (37)
Net debt (1) (2)   623,324  578,154 8 
OPERATING      
Daily Production      
Natural gas (MMcf/d)183.7  184.7 (1)186.5  174.9 7 
Condensate & oil (Bbls/d)13,790  15,728 (12)14,450  14,488  
NGLs (Bbls/d)5,034  5,310 (5)5,271  5,070 4 
Total (Boe/d)49,443  51,819 (5)50,810  48,712 4 
Condensate, oil & NGLs weighting38% 41%   39% 40%   
Condensate & oil weighting28% 30%   28% 30%   
Average selling prices (4)             
Natural gas ($/Mcf)2.16  2.24 (4)2.20  2.80 (21)
Condensate & oil ($/Bbl)49.09  66.60 (26)43.37  68.11 (36)
NGLs ($/Bbl) (3)14.65  8.70 68 11.28  13.80 (18)
Netbacks ($/Boe)            
Petroleum and natural gas revenues23.24  29.11 (20)21.57  31.75 (32)
Realized gain on financial derivatives3.87  1.90 104 4.17  1.01 313 
Royalties(0.69)(1.57)(56)(0.94)(1.36)(31)
Transportation expenses(4.38)(4.28)2 (4.29)(4.44)(3)
Operating expenses(9.80)(9.97)(2)(9.88)(9.61)3 
Operating netback (2)12.24  15.19 (19)10.63  17.35 (39)
Corporate netback (2)9.12  12.54 (27)7.72  14.72 (48)
SHARE TRADING STATISTICS      
High1.02  2.82 (64)3.36  5.19 (35)
Low0.61  1.39 (56)0.24  1.39 (83)
Close0.63  2.48 (75)0.63  2.48 (75)
Average daily volume ('000s)1,663  1,940 (14)2,214  1,360 63 
Common shares outstanding ('000s)   225,727  225,474  

 

(1)Refer to Note 14 "Capital management" in NuVista's financial statements and to the sections entitled "Adjusted funds flow" and "Liquidity and capital resources" contained in NuVista's MD&A.
(2)Non-GAAP measure that does not have any standardized meaning under IFRS and therefore may not be comparable to similar measures presented by other companies where similar terminology is used. Reference should be made to the section entitled "Non-GAAP measurements".
(3)Natural gas liquids ("NGLs") include butane, propane and ethane and an immaterial amount of sulphur revenue.
(4)Product prices exclude realized gains/losses on financial derivatives.


Basis of presentation

Unless otherwise noted, the financial data presented has been prepared in accordance with Canadian generally accepted accounting principles (“GAAP”) also known as International Financial Reporting Standards (“IFRS”). The reporting and measurement currency is the Canadian dollar. Natural gas is 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. National Instrument 51-101 - "Standards of Disclosure for Oil and Gas Activities" includes condensate within the product type of natural gas liquids. NuVista has disclosed condensate values separate from natural gas liquids herein as NuVista believes it provides a more accurate description of NuVista's operations and results therefrom.

Advisories Regarding Oil And Gas Information

Boes may be misleading, particularly if used in isolation. A Boe conversion ratio of 6 Mcf: 1 Bbl is based on an energy equivalency conversion method primarily applicable at the burner tip and does not represent a value equivalency at the wellhead. As the value ratio between natural gas and crude oil based on the current prices of natural gas and crude oil is significantly different from the energy equivalency of 6:1, utilizing a conversion on a 6:1 basis may be misleading as an indication of value.

Advisory regarding forward-looking information and statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements and forward-looking information (collectively, “forward-looking statements”) within the meaning of applicable securities laws. The use of any of the words “will”, “expects”, “believe”, “plans”, “potential” and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. More particularly and without limitation, this press release contains forward looking statements, including management's assessment of: NuVista’s future focus, strategy, plans, opportunities and operations; our plans to ensure liquidity and balance sheet protection, our plans and expectations that we will generate significant free adjusted funds flow towards debt reduction for the remainder of 2020 at current strip prices, our production profile, expectations regarding the timing that the Montney DUCs will be completed and brought online; plans to continue to manage production; future well production performance; the timing of and cost to complete the Pipestone North compressor station facility and the associated Veresen Hythe gas plant expansion; and the expected capacity of the facility, the effect of our financial, commodity, and natural gas risk management strategy and market diversification; 2020 guidance with respect to production, capital spending, adjusted funds flow and free adjusted funds flow, plans to use free funds flow to reduce debt, our COVID-19 business continuity plan, our 2020 drilling and infrastructure plans; the quality of our assets, 2021 guidance and plans to maximize liquidity with net debt reduction, prudent growth to satisfy MVC commitments; plans to match capital spending with adjusted funds flow at certain commodity prices with additional free cash flow allocated to net debt reduction; 2021 adjusted funds flow, capital spending and production guidance; targeted net debt to annualized current quarter adjusted funds flow, and industry conditions and commodity prices. By their nature, forward-looking statements are based upon certain assumptions and are subject to numerous risks and uncertainties, some of which are beyond NuVista’s control, including the impact of general economic conditions, industry conditions, current and future commodity prices, currency and interest rates, anticipated production rates, borrowing, operating and other costs and adjusted funds flow, the timing, allocation and amount of capital expenditures and the results therefrom, anticipated reserves and the imprecision of reserve estimates, the performance of existing wells, the success obtained in drilling new wells, the sufficiency of budgeted capital expenditures in carrying out planned activities, access to infrastructure and markets, competition from other industry participants, availability of qualified personnel or services and drilling and related equipment, stock market volatility, effects of regulation by governmental agencies including changes in environmental regulations, tax laws and royalties; the ability to access sufficient capital from internal sources and bank and equity markets; and including, without limitation, those risks considered under “Risk Factors” in our Annual Information Form. Readers are cautioned that the assumptions used in the preparation of such information, 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. NuVista’s actual results, performance or achievement could differ materially from those expressed in, or implied by, these forward-looking statements, or if any of them do so, what benefits NuVista will derive therefrom. NuVista has included the forward-looking statements in this press release in order to provide readers with a more complete perspective on NuVista’s future operations and such information may not be appropriate for other purposes. NuVista disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by law.

Non-GAAP measurements

Within the press release, references are made to terms commonly used in the oil and natural gas industry. Management uses "adjusted funds flow", "adjusted funds flow per share", "operating netback", "corporate netback", "capital expenditures", "free adjusted funds flow" and "net debt" to analyze performance and leverage. These terms do not have any standardized meaning prescribed by IFRS and therefore may not be comparable to similar measures presented by other companies where similar terminology is used. For further information refer to the section "Non-GAAP measures" in our MD&A. Free adjusted funds flow is forecast adjusted funds flow less capital expenditures required to maintain production.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Jonathan A. Wright
President and CEO
(403) 538-8501

Ross L. Andreachuk
VP, Finance and CFO
(403) 538-8539

Mike J. Lawford 
Chief Operating Officer 
(403) 538-1936

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