In a note to clients Thursday, Sept. 13, Seaport Global Securities LLC analysts said oil and gas producers levered to the DJ Basin formation in Colorado, including Anadarko Petroleum, have underperformed the SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Explore & Producers Index XOP by 14% quarter-to-date. Other DJ basin operators include Noble Energy Inc. (NBL - Get Report) , EOG Resources Inc. (EOG - Get Report) and Whiting Petroleum Corp. (WLL - Get Report) .
This is because a measure titled Initiative 97 is set to be voted on by Colorado citizens in the November ballot. Initiative 97 would effectively halt oil and gas development in the state by pushing 85% of non-federal acreage off limits, SGS wrote Thursday.
If Initiative 97 gets the votes, the measure will move the minimum setback of oil and gas wells to 2,500 feet, up from the current 500 feet for homes and 1,000 feet for schools, according to The Denver Post.
More than four out every five acres of non-federal land in Colorado would effectively be off-limits to new oil and gas drilling should voters approve the measure, which is raising the ire of industry proponents, the Post reported in July.
Colorado-focused oil producers have seen their stocks plummet ever since the measure made it on the ballot, with DJ Basin-levered producers performing 6% worse this week than the broader E&P universe.
But things could turn around quickly if the measure is voted down, which is more likely than previously suggested, Seaport said Thursday after conversations with Colorado oil producers.
Citing an undisclosed Sept. 10 report, Seaport analysts noted Thursday that a recent poll, performed by an undisclosed source and conducted on behalf of the Colorado oil industry, showed 60% support for the bill among Colorado voters, which is likely putting pressure on these companies' stocks.
"After reaching out to APC and other prominent DJ Basin operators, we learned this particular poll was conducted in mid-August and that the article failed to convey the entire picture, in our opinion — specifically, the 60% figure was in reference to the simplified question of whether or not the voter would support 2,500 ft. setbacks, without providing any additional context to the question," the analysts wrote.
Seaport said the polling company separately asked the same questions to voters including the potential negative consequences to Colorado's economy, and the support for Initiative 97 dropped to 43%
"To that end, both APC and other DJ players have voiced optimism regarding the state's increasingly vocal and well-funded educational campaign, which will continue to ramp through November," SGS said. "We advocate adding exposure to DJ basin-levered E&Ps given their recent underperformance."
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