The Meridian Resource Corporation Expands Exploration Portfolio
The Meridian Resource Corporation says its business plan has been reformatted to extend and expand its exploration portfolio beyond its conventional assets in the Louisiana and Texas Gulf Coast regions to include the establishment of large acreage positions in known unconventional and resource plays located within producing regions of the domestic United States containing longer-lived reserves. In recognition of the maturity of the Company's traditional producing region and the paradigm of pricing, management reformatted its business strategy retaining its position in the Gulf Coast of south Louisiana and Texas leveraging off the higher cash flows generated from these properties to acquire exploration opportunities with large acreage positions, multiple repeatable wells and longer-lived reserves. The first venture beyond its traditional boundaries began with its East Texas Woodbine/Austin Chalk play located primarily in Polk and Tyler Counties, Texas.
East Texas Play
Drilling activities were initiated during January 2006 with the drilling of four successive wells beginning with the BSM number 3 well which was drilled to a depth of approximately 14,600 feet to test multiple sand objectives including the Austin Chalk, Upper and Middle Woodbine sand intervals. Analysis of electric logs and cores indicated that the well contained potential pay in the Austin Chalk section of the wellbore similar to offset wells that had been drilled in the area. Because procedures for successful completions in the area indicate the necessity that laterals be drilled and the wells produced immediately upon completion, land and unit requirements forced the Company to release the rig and the well was temporarily abandoned pending unit approval, construction of pipeline facilities and the return of a rig to drill the laterals.
The second well, or the Katherine Leary number 1 well was likewise drilled to approximately 14,350 feet to test the Middle Woodbine, logged and cored with indicated pay in the Austin Chalk section of the well. The well is awaiting completion in the Austin Chalk upon the return of the rig as with the BSM number 3 well.
The third well, the BSM number 2 well, was drilled to approximately 14,600 feet to test the Middle Woodbine section and, based on electric log analysis and cores, encountered potential pay in the Upper Woodbine sand section. The well was completed and perforated in the Upper Woodbine sand section without prior stimulation or fracturing of the tight sand formation and tested at rates up to 1.7 Mmcf per day of natural gas and 232 barrels of water, the latter declining during the course of the 12 hours of testing. The well was shut-in pending construction and tie-in to the pipeline. It is anticipated that the well will be placed on production without stimulation and observed for production with plans to frac the well as others in the AA Wells field are typically treated to enhance rate and recoveries. In addition to the Upper Woodbine pay, electric logs and cores indicated the presence of pay in the Austin Chalk similar to that in the offsetting wells in the nearby area.
The fourth well or the BSM number 1 well was drilled to approximately 14,500 feet to test the Upper Woodbine sand section, logged and cored and had indicated pay in the Austin Chalk similar to that in the offset wells described above and in the nearby wells currently producing from the Austin Chalk section. This well is currently being prepared to be completed in the Austin Chalk by the drilling of two laterals which are expected to take a total of approximately 65-70 days. In the meantime, pipeline rights of way have been submitted for approval and construction is being scheduled so that the well can be flow tested upon completion operations.
Seabiscuit Prospect (SL 18373 well) - The well was originally tested and put on line on March 31, 2006 at 4.5 Mmcf/d and is currently producing at rate of 3.9 Mmcf/d (2.6 net). Meridian owns a 92% WI and is the operator of the well.
Gato Del Sol (SL 18307 well) - The well was originally tested in December, 2005 at 7 Mmcf/d and was put on line in February. The well is currently producing at a rate of 4 Mmcf/d (2.8 net). Meridian owns a 92% WI and is the operator of the well.
Hornets 6 (SL 18073 well) - The well was drilled to test the Big Hum sand interval at approximately 12,500 feet measured depth ("MD"). The electric log indicated that the target sand did not contain sufficient hydrocarbons to justify a completion and the well was plugged and abandoned. Meridian owned a 92% WI and was the operator of the well.
West Cyclops (SL 18330 well) - The well was drilled to 8,650 feet MD targeting the Deltaic sand interval, logged pay in the objective sand section insufficient to justify a completion. The well was plugged and abandoned. Meridian owned a 92% WI and was the operator of the well.
Weeks Island Field
In the Weeks Island area, the Company recently reached total depth on its Goodrich-Cocke #4 well on the Son of Pink Floyd prospect. The well encountered sloughing shale conditions during the first drilling phase which resulted in the sidetracking of the well to move further from the salt mineralized section. The well was drilled to test the Miocene "BF4 Sand" objective, and recently logged 91 feet net apparent pay in the objective sand section. The offset and down-dip wells produced approximately 1.6 million barrels to date, and this well is approximately 65 feet high to the next highest well in the block. The casing was set on bottom as of this date and is being prepared to be completed within the next week, and put on-line shortly afterwards. The Coastal rig utilized to drill this well will be moved within Iberia Parish to drill the J.A. Smith #1 well on the "Y" Not prospect to test a sand in the Lower Miocene formation at a depth of approximately 16,000 feet MD.
Other Outside Operated Activity
Henry Heirs #2 well - This well was proposed by Cimarex as an offset to the Cimarex Henry Heirs #1 well. Meridian elected not to participate as a working interest partner in the well, and retained a carried interest. The well was drilled to a total depth of 12,900 feet and failed to identify commercial hydrocarbons and is currently being plugged and abandoned.
Deep Lake Area
The SL 18172 #1 well on the South Deep Lake Prospect was drilled to its target depth of 18,800 feet to test the MA-14 sands. The Company was carried for a 6.6% WI in the entire well which was plugged and abandoned as a dry hole, all at no cost to Meridian. PetroQuest was the operator.
The Gumbo prospect well, the Westervelt #2 well was drilled to a target depth of 19,400 feet and encountered pay in the Rob L sand interval. Meridian owns a 2.7% ORRI in the well by virtue of land positions and is awaiting the well being placed on production. Denbury is the operator of the well.
The Lacassane #33-4 well was drilled by Denbury, operator of the field, and was drilled to test the Bol Perc sands. The well logged apparent pay and was put on production in December, 2005 at approximately 7.8 Mmcf/d and 230 BCPD. The well has produced approximately 0.9 Bcf and 23,000 barrels of condensate to date and is currently producing at approximately 5 Mmcf/d natural gas and 100 BCPD. The Company owns a 12.3% WI.
The Abshire #33-1 well was drilled by Denbury to a total depth of 11,350 feet and logged apparent pay in the Bol Perc sands. The operator is preparing to run casing in the well. Meridian owns a 12.3% WI and is a non-operator.
Gulf of Mexico, Shelf
The Company recently participated in the MMS Central Gulf of Mexico OCS Lease Sale held on March 15, 2006. It bid on two tracts and was the apparent winner of one tract upon which it expects to cause a well to be drilled during late 2006, depending on the availability of rig equipment. The lease is expected to be awarded to Meridian by the MMS in the near term.
The Company further discussed the diversification of its exploration effort to combine the high cash flows of its Gulf Coast region properties with the drilling and development of multiple unconventional and resource gas plays. Since December 2005, Meridian has acquired strategic positions in three separate basins with working interests ranging between 40% and 92%. Negotiations for additional positions are underway and ongoing as an adjunct to the continued expansion and development of the Gulf Coast asset base. Meridian currently has two barge rigs under contract for the conventional exploration and development activities and one rig for the completion of its current well in the East Texas Woodbine/Austin Chalk program (BSM #1). It is anticipated that the Company will have two additional land rigs available during the third and fourth quarters of 2006 with which it expects to continue its operations in its East Texas field and to initiate pilot programs on its recently acquired resource properties. The Company has initiated discussions with rig contractors for additional rig equipment and crews including the purchase of at least two rigs during 2006. Depending on the success of the Woodbine/Austin Chalk play in East Texas, the Company has sufficient acreage in that play to drill approximately 7-9 additional wells which will keep one rig busy full time over the next two years. Additional acreage is expected to be purchased to expand the play concept.
As an integral and key part of the Company's expansion plan, it has added to its staff a new team of experienced professionals all of whom have joined Meridian effective May 1, 2006. They include Mr. Larry Sheppard, Vice President of Business Development; Mr. Murphy Herrington, General Manager, Acquisitions; Mr. Ryburn McCullough, General Manager, Land; Mr. Bill Perkins, Senior Geologist; and Mr. Jeff Linton, Senior Land Manager. These gentlemen will be operating a newly created office in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Also joining the Company on a contract basis in the Dallas area are Mr. Bill Palmquist, Senior Geophysicist and Mr. Don Luckenbill, Senior Geologist, and Mr. Rob Potter, Senior Geo-chemist. Messrs. Palmquist and Luckenbill will expand Meridian's exploration efforts beyond its traditional boundaries of the Texas Gulf Coast region to the entire Texas Gulf Coast, onshore and offshore. Mr. Potter will support the Company's unconventional/resource team in Tulsa and Houston. In addition, the Company is in discussions with additional professional and technical staff personnel to further enhance its activities in its conventional and unconventional arenas, specifically targeting completions technology in each of its exploration and development plays. The new staff members' backgrounds will be posted on the Company's website in the near future.
Chairman and CEO, Joseph A. Reeves, Jr., commented, "We are extremely pleased and privileged to have such a highly talented group of professionals join our Company. We have witnessed the successful careers of these men individually and collectively and believe that they will add a new dimension and meaningful opportunity set to Meridian's asset portfolio. We look forward to working with them as we focus on the addition of new reserves and integrate the advanced technologies of exploration in all regions that we expand our exploration efforts. Technology has been at the forefront of Meridian's exploration and development program from inception and will continue to be utilized in every facet of our future growth."
Since December 2005, the Company has added significant acreage positions in three unconventional/resource plays in the Illinois Basin, the Delaware Basin and the Palo Duro Basin. To date, the company has net acreage positions in these basins of approximately 22,000, 18,000 and 15,000, respectively and, the Company is working to add to those positions. Initial development of these areas is expected to begin either late in the third quarter or early in the fourth quarter of this year.
Production Data and Hedging Update
Average daily production for the Company for the first quarter
2006 was approximately 71 Mmcfe/d. The Company recently entered into
several new hedging contracts to hedge a portion of its expected oil
and gas production for 2006 through 2008. The additional gas hedge
contracts were completed in the form of costless collars, and ranged
between a floor price of $8.00 and a ceiling price of $10.60 for a
monthly volume of approximately 400 Mmbtu. The additional oil hedge
contracts were also completed in the form of costless collars, and
ranged between a floor price of $60 and a ceiling price of $82 with
monthly volumes ranging between 5,000 and 6,000 barrels. The costless
collars provide the Company with a lower limit "floor" price and an
upper limit "ceiling" price on the hedged volumes. The floor price
represents the lowest price the Company will receive for the hedged
volumes while the ceiling price represents the highest price the
Company will receive for the hedged volumes. The costless collars are
settled monthly based on the average daily settlement price of the
NYMEX futures contract during each respective month.
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