Interim Results for the six months ended 30 June 2015
SOCO today announces its Interim Results for the six months ended 30 June 2015. The Company will host a conference call for institutional analysts at 9:30am today.
Ed Story, Chief Executive Officer, said:
“The main focus for 2015 has been the delivery of the H5 development with first oil now expected imminently, well ahead of the original September/October target. We continue to engage with our partners to optimise current performance of TGT and to progress towards further development of the field and are hopeful the start-up of H5 will serve as a catalyst to facilitate these efforts.
Despite a challenging oil price environment, significant capital expenditure to bring the H5 development to first oil and the $51 million in dividends paid to shareholders during the first half of the year, SOCO remains in a strong financial position providing us with the strategic flexibility to access attractive opportunities that fit the business model and our regional expertise. We are excited to have signed a Memorandum of Understanding together with SOVICO Holdings, a leading Vietnamese banking, finance, real estate and industrial holding company, and PetroVietnam regarding potential exploration Blocks 125-126 in Vietnam.”
- Production averaged 11,856 BOEPD in 1H 2015; full year guidance has been revised to 11-12 KBOEPD, from 10.5-12 KBOEPD with the high end of the guidance dependent on H5 well performance and optimised reservoir management.
- The H5 development project is significantly ahead of original schedule with topsides having been installed on 15 July and first oil expected before mid August.
- The TGT/H5 drilling programme for 2015 was completed with five wells out of a planned 5-6 drilled.
- The TGT partners are working with the JOC to submit an updated RAR/FDP for the TGT field in Q3/Q4 respectively.
- An independent audit by Gaffney, Cline & Associates confirmed SOCO’s management estimates of Commercial Reserves and Contingent Resources for TGT and CNV as of 31 December 2014.
- Despite market conditions SOCO remains committed to its strategy of targeting cash returns to shareholders and pursuing future growth.
- SOCO retains its strong financial position, with no debt on the balance sheet, low operating costs and attractive Vietnam production economics providing strategic flexibility.
- On 29 July 2015, SOCO together with PetroVietnam and SOVICO Holdings signed a Memorandum of Understanding regarding potential exploration Blocks 125-126, offshore Vietnam.
- In June, SOCO paid a dividend of $51m in respect of 2014; the Board will decide on the level of future cash returns in light of the oil price, cash flow generation from Vietnam and expected capital expenditure at the time.
- As previously announced, SOCO is reviewing options to maximise value from its Africa portfolio including rationalisation and farm-out of all or part of its asset base in the region.
- Financial results in the first half were impacted by lower oil price and production, compared to the same period last year, as well as the revision of the Company’s reserves as at 2014 year end.
- Revenue for 1H 2015 was $116.6 million (1H 2014: $246.4m); net profit for 1H 2015 was $5.9 million (1H 2014: $79.8m); operating cash flow for 1H 2015 was $45.3 million (1H 2014: $141.4m).
- SOCO is debt free; cash balance of $96.6 million as at 30 June 2015, down from $166.4 million (including liquid investments) as at 2014 year end, reflecting operating cash flow for the period, H5 development expenditures and the payment of the $51m dividend.
- 2015 firm capex guidance for the full year remains in the region of $90 million, with c.$70 million for Vietnam and c.$20 million for Africa.
- Cost savings have been implemented with further cost savings being targeted.
- The expected earn-out payment of $52.7 million from SOCO’s disposal of its Mongolia interest in 2005 has been re-classified as a current asset at fair value of $50 million with receipt expected within 12 months.
SOCO International plc
Anya Weaving, Chief Financial Officer
Tel: 020 7747 2000
Tel: 020 3772 2500
NOTES TO EDITORS:
SOCO is an international oil and gas exploration and production company, headquartered in London and traded on the London Stock Exchange. The Company has interests in Vietnam, the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville), the Democratic Republic of Congo (Kinshasa) and Angola, with production operations in Vietnam
Production of oil and gas by field
Te Giac Trang (“TGT”) Field
(30.5% interest; operated by Hoang Long Joint Operating Company (“HLJOC”))
TGT field production averaged 33.6 thousand barrels of oil equivalent per day (“KBOEPD”) for 1H 2015, 10.1 KBOEPD net to SOCO. Production was slightly below the Company’s expectations due to drilling delays. A lower level of production is expected during Q3 due to the FPSO shutdown for H5 hook-up and maintenance carried out in July (gross TGT production for the month was 24.7 KBOEPD) and the gradual expected ramp-up of production from the H5 platform.
With the anticipated start-up of H5 before mid August, SOCO has revised its production guidance range for full year 2015 from 10.5-12 KBOEPD to 11-12 KBOEPD.
The JOC and the TGT partners are finalising plans for the perforation intervals and sequence for the H5 wells and agreeing plans on the level of oil and water production from the existing wells on the H1/H4 platforms post H5 start-up. Production for the remainder of 2015 and achieving the high end of production guidance is dependent on: a) the scope of H5 perforations, b) H5 production performance and c) optimal reservoir management. The latter needs to achieve the optimal balance between maximising new production from the H5 platform, natural production decline rates and water-cut from the existing wells with total liquids handling capacity on the FPSO currently available to the TGT partners.
As part of the regular evaluation programme, the HLJOC has completed production logging on a selection of wells which is being evaluated to inform proposals for additional perforations and/or water shut-offs. A successful test of running and recovering a straddle liner was completed and a selection of wells on which to run this water shut-off procedure has been identified. A straddle liner was then successfully run on one well in 1H 2015 with demonstrated reduction in water production and increased oil production with the lessons learnt being reviewed for future wells.
2015 Drilling Programme
The TGT/H5 drilling programme for 2015 has been completed with five of the planned five-six wells drilled and completed in the period – three from the H4 platform and two from the H5 platform (bringing the total H5 wells drilled to five wells).
From the H4 platform, the TGT-20P, -21P and -26P wells were drilled this year. The -20P well, an H4 in-fill producer, encountered completion problems in the targeted Oligocene section and was completed in the Miocene instead. The subsequent -26P well was therefore modified and deepened to encounter the Oligocene and replace the -20P as an Oligocene producer. The TGT-21P was drilled as an H3N in-fill producer. These wells have been completed and are producing.
In addition to the three H5 producer wells already drilled in 2014 (TGT-22P, -23P and -24P), the TGT-25P development well and the -12X appraisal well were drilled in 1H 2015. The -25P well was also drilled to appraise the deeper Oligocene where it encountered higher than predicted pressure; the HLJOC is reviewing means to revisit this deep section in future drilling. The -12X appraisal well, targeting the previously undrilled H5N fault block, encountered only a minor oil column in the Miocene but nonetheless was completed ready for production. There was insufficient time to drill the H5S fault block appraisal well, TGT-14X, which will be drilled in the next drilling campaign.
As previously announced, in light of the current oil price environment and PetroVietnam’s stated reduction in scope for 2015 expenditures, the drilling programme for this year remains limited to the completed firm 2015 programme pending approval of the revised RAR and submission of the revised FDP.
Updated TGT Reserve Assessment Report (“RAR”) and Field Development Plan (“FDP”)
The HLJOC partners are preparing an update to the TGT hydrocarbons in-place report, RAR, and the TGT FDP for submission to the Vietnamese authorities. The submission of the updated TGT RAR is now targeted for August 2015 and the updated TGT FDP in Q4 2015. The scope of the development programme in the updated FDP will to a large extent depend on the oil price outlook at the time and the HLJOC partners’ alignment on a development path and appetite to commit capital.
Ca Ngu Vang Field (“CNV”)
(25% interest; operated by Hoan Vu Joint Operating Company (“HVJOC”))
CNV production for 1H 2015 averaged 1.8 KBOEPD net to the Company’s working interest. The HVJOC is reviewing means for increasing production through modifications to the process facilities on the reception platform at Bach Ho. Engineering studies have been initiated and technical options are expected to be presented to the partners by the end of Q3.
The lessons learnt and re-drilling programme for the CNV-7P well have been presented by the HVJOC. A further technical meeting among all the parties is expected shortly. However, while the cost of the well is included in the contingent budget for 2015, in SOCO’s view, it is unlikely to be re-drilled this year.
Independent Reserves Audit
Following the revision of management estimates of Commercial Reserves and Contingent Resources announced at the 2014 full year results, SOCO commissioned an independent review of its producing assets. An independent audit by Gaffney, Cline & Associates was completed in June 2015 and confirmed SOCO’s management estimates of Commercial Reserves and Contingent Resources for TGT and CNV as of 31 December 2014.
SOCO is reviewing options to maximise value from its Africa portfolio including rationalisation and farm-out of all or part of its asset base in the region.
Marine XI: Having completed the analysis of the Lidongo X Marine-101 exploration well, SOCO is in dialogue with the Republic of Congo authorities regarding commercialisation options for the field. The government has requested that the results be presented as a Production Licence Application (PEX). This report is being prepared and formal submission is expected by the end of Q3. Separately, seismic reprocessing following successful ENI discoveries on the neighbouring blocks is ongoing and expected to be completed by the end of 2015.
Mer Profonde Sud (“MPS”): The MPS well is currently planned for Q1 2016 with detailed well design work in progress.
Cabinda North: The authorities in Angola have issued a decree, gazetted on 21 April 2015, to extend the licence by three years. Discussions are ongoing amongst the partners to agree the composition of the new partnership, operator and work programme.
First half 2015 revenue, profits and cash flows were in line with the Company’s expectations, albeit significantly different from the first half of 2014. Results were impacted by lower production and oil price compared to the same period last year. Income statement profits were also impacted by an increase in non-cash depreciation, depletion and decommissioning (“DD&A”) associated with the revision of the Company’s reserves as announced in the 2014 year end results.
Operating cash flow was in line with expectations, however, lower production and oil price combined with first-half weighted H5 development expenditure resulted in negative free cash flow for 1H 2015.
Cost savings are underway both at the Vietnam JOC level and across SOCO’s cost base. Capex and opex savings of c.10% have been reflected in this year’s Vietnam expenditure programme. The Company continues to implement G&A cost savings – mostly in the African region and associated with the new ventures activities – amounting to c. 25% of the associated G&A. Further cost savings are being targeted across the organisation and at the JOC level.
Despite the challenging environment, first-half weighted capital expenditure programme and paying the $51 million dividend to shareholders during the first half, SOCO remains well financed with no debt on the balance sheet and $96.6 million of cash and cash equivalents as at 30 June 2015. This, along with SOCO’s low operating costs and attractive Vietnam production economics with operating cash flow break-even oil price per barrel in the low $20s, affords the Group financial flexibility in the current challenging environment.
The financial asset related to the expected earn-out payment of $52.7 million from the disposal of the Company’s Mongolia interest in 2005 has been re-classified as a current asset at the estimated fair value of $50.0 million as at 30 June 2015 with the expectation of receipt within 12 months.
Key financial metrics
Oil and gas revenues in the first half of 2015 were $116.6 million, down from $246.4 million in the equivalent period last year, due to both lower oil prices and to a lesser extent lower production. In the current low oil price environment SOCO realised an average oil price of $59.58 per barrel versus $113.11 per barrel in the first half of 2014. During the first six months of 2015 the Group achieved an average premium of over $1.50 per barrel to Brent which is expected to increase in the second half of the year as TGT oil sales are currently realising a premium of $2.80 per barrel. The Group’s production during the period was 11,856 BOEPD down from 13,960 BOEPD in the first half of 2014 (see Operations Review section).
Cost of Sales
Cost of sales was $81.3 million for the six month period to 30 June 2015, up from $66.0 million in the first half of 2014, with the CNV field cost of sales equalling $14.8 million (1H 2014 – $6.8 million) and the TGT field cost of sales of $66.5 million in the current period (1H 2014 – $59.2 million).
Analysis of Cost of Sales
Most of the increase in cost of sales is due to higher DD&A charges following the revision of reserves in the 2014 year end results as DD&A is calculated on a unit of production basis.
Oil inventory movements, recorded at market value, increased cost of sales, period on period, by $7.8 million.
Direct operating costs for TGT were $18.9 million for this six month reporting period, slightly down from $19.1 million for 1H 2014, given the predominately fixed cost nature of the TGT field facilities. General and administration costs associated with the TGT field were down from $2.3 million in the first half of 2014 to $1.3 million in the current period reflecting the cost saving initiatives in Vietnam.
Direct operating costs associated with CNV were $2.4 million in the first half of 2015, up slightly from $2.3 million for the first half of 2014, while general and administration costs were $0.3 million in both periods.
Total Vietnam operating costs on a per barrel basis (excluding DD&A, inventory movements and sales related duties and royalties) were $9.88 per barrel compared with $8.47 per barrel in 1H 2014. The primary cause of the increase is related to the lower production volumes on the TGT field where the costs are predominately fixed.
Royalties on oil sales from TGT and CNV were consistent with lower revenue in the first half of 2015. Export duty arising on TGT oil sales was $0.5 million in the current period, down from $5.1 million in the first half of 2014, due to lower oil sales revenues and more cargoes being sold into the domestic market which are not subject to export duty. All CNV oil was sold into the domestic market for both the current period and equivalent period last year.
Administrative expenses were $5.8 million in the period compared with $6.0 million in the equivalent period last year. The decrease is mainly due to reduced corporate costs following the closure of the Group’s Calgary new ventures office, partially offset by reduced allocation of corporate resources to projects.
During the period to 30 June 2015, exploration expenses comprised pre-licence costs in the amount of $0.8 million.
Operating profit for the period was $28.7 million compared with $174.4 million for the first half of 2014.
Other Gains and Losses
The increase in other gains and losses in the first six months of 2015 to $4.6 million from $0.8 million in the equivalent period last year is mainly due to a higher gain in 2015 on the change in fair value associated with the subsequent payment amount tied to future production from the Group’s divested Mongolia interest.
The tax expense decreased from $94.9 million in the six month period ending 30 June 2014 to $26.8 million in the current reporting period consistent with lower profit. The Group’s effective tax rate in the current period is significantly higher than in 1H 2014 as the proportion of non-recoverable, non-deductible costs is higher due to lower oil sales revenues and following the 2014 year end reserves reduction and the resulting acceleration of DD&A.
Intangible assets increased by $5.5 million since 2014 year end, predominantly arising from continued activity in the Group’s frica region, including preparation for drilling a well on the MPS Block in 2016 and seismic reprocessing on the Marine XI Block, both offshore Congo Brazzaville.
Property, plant and equipment increased by $3.6 million since 2014 year end representing drilling and development activities on the TGT field offset by DD&A.
Other receivables of $27.2 million (31 December 2014 – $24.6 million) comprise abandonment security funds for TGT and CNV which have been established to ensure that sufficient funds exist to meet future abandonment obligations. The funds are operated by PetroVietnam and partners retain the legal rights to the funds pending commencement of abandonment operations.
Oil inventory was $4.5 million at 30 June 2015, reduced from $6.1 million at 2014 year end. Trade and other receivables at 30 June 2015 were $31.2 million, down from $39.6 million at year end 2014. The movements in oil inventory and trade receivables arise mainly due to the timing of oil sale liftings and the oil price realised.
The financial asset associated with the Mongolia subsequent payment amount (see Note 8 and above) has been reclassified as a current asset as it is now expected to be recovered within 12 months in accordance with the terms of the transaction.
SOCO’s cash, cash equivalents and liquid investments totalled $96.6 million at 30 June 2015 (31 December 2014 – $166.4 million). This decrease since year end is mainly a result of net cash flows including the Group’s TGT H5 development and drilling programme, the June 2015 dividend, offset by production operations in Vietnam.
Trade and other payables were $26.5 million at the current period end, down from $43.9 million at 31 December 2014 mainly due to the status of the ongoing work programmes, in particular in Vietnam associated with the TGT development. Tax payable of $10.3 million at the end of the reporting period, compared with $11.6 million at the end of 2014, is consistent with the timing of liftings in Vietnam where tax is paid on each cargo lifted.
Deferred tax liabilities have decreased to $195.0 million at 30 June 2015 from $200.2 million at 31 December 2014. Following the year end reserves revision and the associated increase in DD&A charges in the current period on both TGT and CNV, decelerated tax depreciation and other tax timing differences have caused the deferred tax liability to reverse.
Long term provisions comprise the Group’s decommissioning obligations in Vietnam which have increased to $54.6 million as at 30 June 2015 from $51.1 million at 2014 year end. This reflects the development drilling activity at the TGT field.
Net cash flows from operating activities for the first six months of 2015 comprise the Group’s continuing Vietnam operations and amounted to $45.3 million compared with $141.4 million in the first half of 2014. This decrease is mainly due to reduced realised oil prices and production volumes from the TGT and CNV fields including the associated impact on working capital movements, as described above.
Capital expenditure for the period ending 30 June 2015 was $61.9 million compared with $60.1 million in the equivalent period last year. Although similar in total, exploration expenditure was down by $22.2 million, period on period, due to reduced activity and cost savings in Africa, and Vietnam development expenditure was up by $24.0 million, period on period, mainly due to the H5 development.
Free cash flow before working capital movements for the period was negative at $19.9 million (year ended 31 December 2014 – $41.0 million and six months ended 30 June 2014 – $64.8 million), reflecting the first-half weighted H5 development project expenditure.
RELATED PARTY TRANSACTIONS
There have been no new material related party transactions in the period and there have been no material changes to the related party transactions described in Note 32 to the Consolidated Financial Statements contained in the 2014 Annual Report and Accounts.
RISKS AND UNCERTAINTIES
There are a number of potential risks and uncertainties which could have a material impact on the Group’s performance over the remaining six months of 2015 and could cause actual results to differ materially from expected and historical results. Risks and uncertainties, along with the mitigation measures in place to reduce risks to acceptable levels, that remain unchanged from those published in the 2014 Annual Report and Accounts are summarised below:
- Operational risk – associated with conducting exploration, drilling, construction and production operations in the upstream oil and gas industry.
- Empowerment risk – the conduct of international operations requires the delegation of a degree of decision making to partners, contractors and locally based personnel.
- Credit risk – in respect of the Group’s short term financial assets at fair value through profit or loss arising on the Group’s disposal of its Mongolia interest.
- Foreign currency risk – associated with cash balances held in non-US dollar denominations.
- Liquidity risk – associated with meeting the Group’s cash requirements.
- Interest rate risk – applicable to the Group’s cash balances and short-term financial assets.
- Commodity price risk – associated with the Group’s sales of oil and gas.
- Regulatory risk – arising in countries where the Group has an interest, including compliance with and interpretation of taxation and other regulations.
- Contractual risk – in relation to contractual terms that may be subject to further negotiation at a later date.
- Capital risk management – in relation to Group financing.
- Reserves risk – associated with inherent uncertainties in the application of standard recognised evaluation techniques to estimate proven and probable reserves.
- Reputational risk – associated with the conduct of oil and gas activity in locations where social and environmental matters may be highly sensitive both on the ground and as perceived globally.
- Business conduct and bribery risk – the industry sector and certain countries where SOCO operates may be perceived as falling short of the standards expected by the UK Bribery Act.
- Political and regional risk – due to the location of the Group’s projects, often in developing countries or countries with emerging free market systems.
- Health, safety, environment and social risks – arising due to the nature and location of the Group’s activities.
Further information on the above principal risks and uncertainties facing the Group is included in the Risk Management section of the 2014 Annual Report and Accounts and in Note 4 to the Consolidated Financial Statements in that report in relation to reserves estimation risk and its impact on the Consolidated Financial Statements.
The Group has a strong financial position and based on future cash flow projections should be able to continue in operational existence for the foreseeable future. Consequently the Directors believe that the Group is well placed to manage its financial and operating risks successfully and have prepared the Half Year Report on a going concern basis.
Following approval at the AGM, in June, the Company paid a final dividend of 10 pence per share (c.$51 million). The Board will decide on the level of future cash returns in light of the oil price, cash flow generation from Vietnam and expected capital expenditure at the time.
Completion of Legal Review of Allegations
As set out in SOCO’s 2014 Preliminary Results and Annual Report and Accounts, SOCO commissioned an independent review by Clifford Chance LLP of allegations made in various quarters about SOCO’s operations in Block V in the DRC. Clifford Chance found that the allegations were substantially inaccurate though it found non-material instances where payments were made in breach of Group policy. The Company has liaised with the relevant UK authorities throughout and Clifford Chance is advising on improvement of the Group’s policies and processes for the future. A statement on the outcome of the review has also been released on the Company’s website.
Rui de Sousa
President and Chief Executive Officer