Continental Resources' CEO Discusses Q2 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Continental Resources, Inc. (CLR)

Q2 2012 Earnings Call

August 9, 2012 10:00 AM ET

Executives

Harold Hamm – Chairman and CEO

Rick Bott – President and COO

John Hart – SVP, CFO and Treasurer

Richard Muncrief – SVP, Operations

Jack Stark – SVP, Exploration

Steve Owen – SVP, Land

Jeff Hume – Vice Chairman, Strategic Growth Initiatives

Analysts

Subash Chandra – Jefferies

Leo Mariani – RBC

Pearce Hammond – Simmons

Brian Corales – Howard Weil

Hsulin Peng – Robert W Baird

Noel Parks – Ladenburg Thalmann

Eli Kantor – IBERIA Capital

Rudy Hokanson – Barrington Research

Andrew Coleman – Raymond James

Presentation

Operator

Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Continental Resources Second Quarter 2012 Earnings Conference Call. This conference call is being recorded.

Today’s call will include projections, assumptions and guidance that are considered forward-looking statements. Actual results will likely differ from those contained in our forward-looking statements. Please refer to the company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission for additional information concerning these statements and risks.

Chairman and CEO, Harold Hamm, will begin this morning’s call, followed by President and COO, Rick Bott, and Chief Financial Officer, John Hart. After their remarks, we will open the floor to questions. Other members of management are also available to answer your questions.

Now, I will turn the call over to Mr. Hamm.

Harold Hamm

Good morning, everyone. Thank you for joining us for Continental’s second quarter earnings call. Two years ago, we met with many of you here in Oklahoma City at our first Continental Resources’ Investor Day. At that conference, we unveiled our five-year plan to triple production in proved reserves by year-end 2014. At that time, some of you may have been skeptical that we could do that, but we will meet that production goal by early- to mid-2013, 18 to 24 months ahead of that plan. And we moved the company headquarters from Enid, Oklahoma to Oklahoma City in the meantime.

During June, we achieved a corporate production milestone of 100,000 barrels per day. Our second quarter 2012 production of 94,852 BOEPD was 76% higher than the same quarter last year and 11% above production for the first quarter of 2012. Our second quarter operating and financial results were also exceptionally strong.

Based on our strong results, we raised 2012 production growth guidance as a whole to a range of 57% to 59% funded by a $3 billion CapEx budget. Continental Resources continues to ramp up production in our premier Bakken asset, one of the largest and most prolific oil fields discovered in more than 40 years and we’ve seen tremendous value in our position also within the Anadarko Woodford.

Our teams are increasing the value of these assets through acceleration of our development plan and they continue to perform at an exceptional level. This allowed us to maintain industry-leading production momentum and margins while reducing our rig count. In the Bakken, we improved drilling cycle times by approximately 30%; in essence, we are accomplishing more with less. By year-end 2013, we expect to substantially de-risk and establish production in each spacing unit at our North Dakota Bakken acreage. This will allow us to employ more ECO-Pad rigs.

We’ve already made significant progress and are rapidly transforming from single well to ECO-Pad drilling with nearly half of our Bakken rigs currently drilling on ECO-Pads. Pad drilling is yielding up to 10% cost savings per well. As we move into full development mode, we expect to generate further efficiencies that will continue to improve the value of this asset.

Underpinning our strong growth in production and proved reserves is a solid financial foundation. Toward this end, we’ve layered in hedges to establish cash flow and are maintaining a low level of long-term debt for the size of our company. Our strong balance sheet provides flexibility when acreage consolidation or other growth opportunities may arise, as we’ve seen throughout this last year.

Together, our strong balance sheet and operational control enables us to maintain high margins and cash flow growth. Superior assets, operational excellence, and financial flexibility are the essential elements of our strategy, which we strongly believe will maximize value for shareholders. We’ve taken a bold leadership position in our two key resource plays, and we have a high level of confidence in long-term value of oil and natural gas. We’re proud to be helping America become energy independent.

With that, I would like to turn the call over to Rick Bott for additional color and detail. Rick?

Rick Bott

Thank you, Harold. These are really fascinating times at Continental Resources and since joining the team a few months ago, I have really been struck by the variety of opportunities that we have in front of us. In addition, we have an excellent team of people with a strong entrepreneurial drive continuing to create value from these opportunities.

But a couple things you said I think are worth really restating for our second-quarter highlights. 76% year-over-year production growth, and an increase of 11% increase over the first quarter of 2012, as well as a 48% year-over-year growth in EBITDA, as you noted.

We also had a 20% increase in proved reserves, to 610 million barrels of oil equivalent from the end of 2011 based on our mid-year internal evaluation. Continued improvement of our operating efficiencies, which, along with increased capital spending, has allowed us to simultaneously de-risk and extend the proven inventory in the Williston basin, while bringing forward the value of these high rate of return wells.

With this in mind, let’s talk about the three primary reasons for the additional capital so far this year and for the remainder of year, which as Harold noted, will be $3 billion for the full year and deliver an increase in production growth to a range of 57% to 59%.

Firstly, over the year, we’ve reduced cycle times by 30%, which resulted in more net wells drilled per rig. Because we are opportunity-rich and have generated such efficiencies, we looked at all our options and decided to accelerate our efforts to unlock the value where prudent.

Secondly, as we look at all the players in the Bakken, the entire industry is wrestling with cost escalation and has really chosen to focus on their own operations and not participate in wells others drill. We have chosen a contrarian long-term approach, and instead, have taken up these available interests in both our operated wells and those operated by others.

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