CALGARY – Athabasca Oil Corporation (TSX: ATH) (“Athabasca” or the “Company”) is taking further immediate actions in response to the significant decline in global oil prices to bolster balance sheet strength and corporate resiliency.
Shut-in of Hangingstone Asset
Due to the significant decline in oil prices combined with the economic uncertainty associated to the ongoing COVID crisis, Athabasca has decided to suspend the Hangingstone SAGD operation. This suspension was initiated on April 2, 2020 and will involve shutting in the well pairs, halting steam injection to the reservoir, and taking measures to preserve the processing facility and pipelines in a safe manner so that it could be re-started at a future date when the economy has recovered.
The Hangingstone asset has an operating break-even of approximately US$37.50 Western Canadian Select and this action is expected to significantly improve corporate resiliency in the current environment.
As part of this action, Athabasca is reducing its corporate staff count by 15%. Hangingstone was Athabasca’s first operated oil sands project that began construction in 2013 and was commissioned in 2015. The Company would like to thank all staff that have worked hard over the years to bring this asset on stream. It is unfortunate that made-in-Alberta assets like Hangingstone cannot continue operations under current prices.
Revised 2020 Guidance
Annual corporate guidance is 30,000 – 31,500 boe/d and reflects a ~2,500 boe/d reduction related to the shut-in. The Company is prepared to self-curtail additional production volumes as required by the price environment. Production optimization initiatives will be aimed at maximizing corporate funds flow while maintaining the integrity of booked reserves.
Athabasca has now cancelled a total of $40 million of capital expenditures, representing a 30% reduction from the original 2020 budget. The revised $85 million budget includes the recent completion of its winter Light Oil program (10 Montney wells and 16 Duvernay wells). The Company has no additional Light Oil activity planned for the balance of the year. The Company already had a minimal capital program in place and has no additional capital requirements to sustain its remaining liquids weighted production base.
Balance Sheet and Risk Management
As at year-end 2019, Athabasca had liquidity of $340 million ($255 million cash equivalents & $85 million available credit facilities), inclusive of $80 million undrawn on the $120 million reserve-based credit facility (RCF). The RCF is revolving until May 31, 2020, and has been routinely extended with bi-annual reviews, with a current maturity date of May 31, 2021. Athabasca’s existing high yield debt has term until February 2022 with no financial or maintenance covenants. The Company’s risk management program will mitigate near term pricing volatility. The current 2020 hedge book has market to market gains of $58 million (April 1). Maximizing corporate funds flow and maintaining strong corporate liquidity during the current extreme price volatility is Athabasca’s top priority.
About Athabasca Oil Corporation
Athabasca Oil Corporation is a Canadian energy company with a focused strategy on the development of thermal and light oil assets. Situated in Alberta’s Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin, the Company has amassed a significant land base of extensive, high quality resources. Athabasca’s common shares trade on the TSX under the symbol “ATH”. For more information, visit www.atha.com.