Swift Energy also announced that its 2005 total production increased to approximately 59.5 billion cubic feet equivalent ("Bcfe"), a 2% increase over 2004 production levels, with approximately 43.0 Bcfe produced domestically and 16.5 Bcfe produced in New Zealand. The Company achieved these levels of production despite having an aggregate of 6.5 Bcfe of deferred production in the last half of 2005, as a result of hurricane activity along the Gulf Coast, with 3.0 Bcfe deferred in the third quarter, and 3.5 Bcfe was deferred in the fourth quarter.
It was further announced that Swift Energy's 2005 year-end proved reserves are estimated to be reported at approximately 760 Bcfe, a decrease of 5% from the 800 Bcfe at year-end 2004. These 2005 proved reserves were valued at over $3 billion on a PV-10 year-end basis, compared to $2 billion for the Company's 2004 year-end reserves. Future appraisal drilling at the Bondi and the Newport discoveries are expected to add proved reserves that are not recorded in the 2005 reserves total.
Terry Swift, CEO of Swift Energy remarked, "The significant oil production rates and relatively high flowing tubing pressures of these two discoveries demonstrate that deeper oil accumulations can be found in and around the prolific Lake Washington field. We believe these discoveries further validate the value of our 3-D based strategy in the Lake Washington and surrounding area, as well as illustrate the potential yet to be exploited. We currently estimate that the Newport prospect has a gross reserves potential of 10 to 30 million barrels of oil with a minor amount of that recognized in our 2005 reserves. Additionally, we believe there is substantial potential in deeper targets that have not yet been drilled at about 2,000 feet below the penetrated sands. Our geologic team continues to generate additional prospects for us to target in 2006 and 2007 in Lake Washington and our other focus areas across southern Louisiana. As our operations return to normal following the 2005 hurricanes, we are poised to regain our momentum with an even larger opportunity set in front of us."
2005 Year-End Lake Washington Well Test Results
The SL 17990 #3 exploratory well discussed above is a downdip delineation well from the previously announced discovery well at the Newport prospect announced in August, 2005, and tested at rates up to 8,340 barrels of oil equivalent ("boe/d") from two zones. This included 3,792 b/d and 1.7 MMcf/d with no water on a 23/64-inch choke and flowing tubing pressure of 2,378 psi in the first of three prospective sand intervals encountered in this well. In a second sand interval, the well tested at rates up to 3,637 B/d of crude oil and 2.8 MMcf/d with no water on a 26/64-inch choke with flowing tubing pressure of 2,295 psi. The well was drilled to a total vertical depth of 12,736 feet and encountered approximately 283 feet of net pay in three different sand intervals. The third sand interval, with a 30 net pay interval, was not tested at this time.
An exploratory well on the Bondi prospect, the SL 18148 #1 well, tested at rates up to 3,581 Boe/d from two zones, which included 1,723 B/d and 1.1 MMcf/d with 34 barrels of water per day on a 22/64-inch choke and flowing tubing pressure of 1,301 psi in the upper sand interval encountered in this well. The lower sand interval tested at rates up to 1,560 B/d and 0.7 MMcf/d with 19 barrels of water per day on a 22/64-inch choke with flowing tubing pressure of 1,066 psi. The well was drilled to a total vertical depth of 13,649 feet, and the two sand intervals encountered totaled approximately 39 feet of net pay.
Swift Energy owns a 100% working interest in both wells. The Newport delineation well is located approximately 700 feet downdip to the west of the initial discovery well and is expected to be placed on production during the second quarter of 2006. The Bondi discovery well is located approximately five miles to the northwest of the field's facility infrastructure and is not expected to be on production until the second-half of 2006. Actual production sales rates for the Bondi and Newport discoveries will be determined based on additional reservoir testing, state allowables and facility capacities.
The facility expansion plans at Lake Washington initiated in 2005 are nearly complete with the CM3 platform and high pressure gas pipeline in place and operational. The added compression at the 6700 platform, which is needed to increase gas lift capacity, is expected to be operational in the middle of the first quarter 2006. The expansion of these facilities was delayed as a result of the tropical storm and hurricane activity last year. Further expansion plans are currently being considered for 2006 and 2007, particularly in the western portion of the field where the Newport and Bondi prospects are located.
2005 Production and Reserves Update
Total 2005 production increased 2% to approximately 59.5 Bcfe, with approximately 43.0 Bcfe produced domestically and 16.5 Bcfe produced in New Zealand. Approximately 3 Bcfe and 3.5 Bcfe were deferred in the third and fourth quarter of 2005, respectively, as a result of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Fourth quarter 2005 production is estimated to total approximately 14.6 Bcfe, a sequential increase of 8% from the third quarter of 2005 production, but a decrease of 8% from the fourth quarter of 2004 production. Domestic production in the fourth quarter was approximately 11.0 Bcfe, with approximately 3.6 Bcfe produced in New Zealand. The average oil price received by the Company during the fourth quarter of 2005 is expected to exceed $57.00 per barrel globally. Also in the fourth quarter 2005, the Company's estimated average prices received for natural gas are expected to exceed $10.00 per thousand cubic feet ("Mcf") domestically and $3.00 per Mcf in New Zealand, and for natural gas liquids the prices are expected to exceed $35.00 per barrel domestically and $18.00 per barrel in New Zealand.
Year-end 2005 reserves are still being finalized and are currently estimated to be approximately 760 Bcfe, a decrease of 5% from 2004 year-end proved reserves of 800 Bcfe. This minor reduction in proved reserves is largely due to storm-related delays in the Company's exploratory and exploitation drilling activities in southern Louisiana area. Fourteen wells planned in Swift Energy's 2005 drilling program in this area were not drilled because drilling rigs had been damaged or were unavailable due to the hurricanes. The Newport prospect delineation well announced today was drilling at the time of Hurricane Katrina and would probably have been completed in the third quarter of 2005, and an additional delineation well at the Newport prospect was planned during the fourth quarter. Further, disappointing drilling results, primarily in the Kauri sand, caused New Zealand reserves to decline in 2005 over 2004 estimates. The 2005 year-end PV-10 reserve value for Swift Energy totaled more than $3 billion, with approximately $2.7 billion attributable to domestic reserves and $300 million to New Zealand reserves.
Swift Energy currently has three barge drilling rigs operating, with two located in the Lake Washington area and one in the Bay de Chene Field in Jefferson and Lafourche Parishes in Louisiana. Swift Energy continues to utilize one completion rig, which is alternating between the Bay de Chene Field, the Lake Washington Field and the Cote Blanche Island Field in St. Mary's Parish. A fourth barge rig is expected to begin working in these fields by some time in March. At this time, a drilling rig is operating in Swift Energy's AWP Olmos Field in South Texas and another rig is also operating in the Company's newly acquired South Bearhead Creek Field in central Louisiana. In New Zealand, Swift Energy is operating three rigs drilling the Goss and Trapper prospects and a shallow well targeting the Manutahi sand.
Additionally, Swift Energy has resumed production at its Bay de Chene Field. As a result of three recent recompletions in this field, production is now averaging 4.2 million cubic feet equivalent per day ("MMcfe/d"), which is approximately twice the production level experienced during 2005 prior to Hurricane Katrina. Production remains shut-in at Swift Energy's Cote Blanche Island Field located in St. Mary Parish in Louisiana and is expected to be restarted late in the first quarter 2006. However, Swift Energy has begun additional operations in the field, including two recompletions, which will begin production when facilities are available later in the first quarter of 2006. Drilling activity is also commencing in both fields in the first quarter of 2006.
During the fourth quarter in New Zealand, Swift Energy was unsuccessful with the Auhora South B-1 exploration well, which was approximately 1 1/2 miles north of the Piakau North A1 discovery well in the TAWN area. The previously announced Piakau North A-2 well was drilled to a depth of 11,897 feet and found an oil/water contact in the lower portion of the well but was unable to produce commercially. Both wells had been targeting the Eocene-aged sand seen in the Piakau North A1 discovery well. The Piakau North A-1 well resumed production in December 2005.
Swift Energy entered into several price risk management transactions and reports the following initial 2006 positions. Swift Energy has purchased floors covering 400,000 MMbtu (million British thermal units) of first quarter 2006 domestic natural gas production at an average NYMEX strike price of $9.00 per MMbtu. For the second quarter 2006, the Company has 425,000 MMbtu of its domestic natural gas production covered by floors at an average NYMEX strike price of $8.00 per MMbtu.
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