Exco Increases Production by 70% in 4Q10

EXCO provided certain operational information regarding its fourth quarter and full year ended December 31, 2010.

  • Oil and natural gas production was 32.2 Bcfe for the fourth quarter 2010, or 350 Mmcfe per day, which represents a 70% increase from pro forma fourth quarter 2009 production of 19.0 Bcfe, or 206 Mmcfe per day. We currently estimate our net production to average between 520-580 Mmcfe per day for the full year 2011, and expect to exit 2011 with net production in excess of 600 Mmcfe per day. The following table presents the 2010 actual fourth quarter and full year pro forma production compared with the pro forma 2009 fourth quarter and full year production.
  • The increased production highlights the success of our Haynesville shale drilling program where we produced 19.0 Bcf (206 Mmcf per day), representing 59% of our total production during the fourth quarter 2010 compared with 4.3 Bcf (47 Mmcf per day), or 23% of our total production, in the pro forma fourth quarter 2009. During the fourth quarter 2010, our production was impacted by 1.9 Bcf (21 Mmcf per day) of net shut-in production primarily due to shut-in producing wells as we drilled and completed offset wells. We anticipate that as we implement our manufacturing mode of development, certain planned shut-ins will continue. Our gross operated Haynesville production increased from an average of 7 Mmcf per day in the fourth quarter of 2008 to 723 Mmcf per day as of December 31, 2010. We achieved this significant production growth primarily by drilling and completing 115 operated wells from the fourth quarter 2008 to December 31, 2010. Including non-operated volumes, we exited 2010 with a net Haynesville production rate of 234 Mmcf per day and approximately 11 Mmcf per day net shut-in.
  • In Appalachia, we closed the acquisition of acreage and producing assets from Chief Oil & Gas, LLC (Chief) for $459 million on January 11, 2011. We recently completed the best Marcellus shale well in our portfolio on this acreage and this well is currently producing approximately 10 Mmcf per day with flowing casing pressure in excess of 3,900 psi. We have 10 additional wells awaiting completion and plan to begin a two rig drilling program on this acreage early in 2011. Pursuant to our joint development agreement, BG Group has the right to participate for 50% of this acquisition.
  • As previously announced, our year end 2010 estimated proved reserves increased by 56% to 1.5 Tcfe. We replaced 576% of our production with a finding and development cost of $0.54 per Mcfe through the drill bit. Adjusting for the benefit of $351 million of BG carry, our "all-in" finding and development cost would have been $1.03 per Mcfe. Our development drilling success has given us the ability to book proved reserves on 80-acre spacing in our core DeSoto Parish Haynesville shale development area.
  • Our jointly-owned midstream entity with BG Group in East Texas and North Louisiana, TGGT Holdings, LLC (TGGT), had average throughput of 1.0 Bcf per day during the fourth quarter 2010. TGGT expects further increased throughput due to continued development of our DeSoto Parish acreage and a major expansion to gather and treat volumes from our upstream assets in the Shelby Trough in East Texas.
  • We have entered into additional derivative contracts since the end of the third quarter 2010. Currently, we have 89.9 Bcfe hedged for 2011 at a weighted average price of $5.78 per Mcfe, representing 42-47% of our expected production.

Operations Activity and Outlook

We spent $91 million on development and exploitation activities, drilling and completing 51 gross (31.0 net) wells in the fourth quarter 2010, compared with 48 gross (24.4 net) wells during the third quarter 2010. We spent $347 million on full year 2010 development and exploration activities as we drilled and completed 154 gross (93.7 net) wells during 2010. Our 2010 net capital expenditures reflect the benefit of the BG Group carry in East Texas/North Louisiana of $338 million and $13 million in Appalachia. As of December 31, 2010, the remaining balance of the carry in East Texas/North Louisiana was $30 million and the remaining balance of the carry in Appalachia was $137 million. We had an overall drilling success rate of 100% for the fourth quarter 2010, while our full year 2010 drilling success rate was 99%, as we successfully drilled and completed 154 of the total 156 well program. We now have 7,730 gross (3,834 net) wells in our portfolio of which 94% are operated and we are continuing efforts to opportunistically acquire additional leasehold and production in our core shale areas. Our total capital expenditures, including leasing, net of acreage reimbursements from BG Group, were $132 million in the fourth quarter 2010. We also made equity contributions to our midstream affiliates of $44 million. Our 2011 capital budget, as approved by our Board of Directors, totals $976 million, and will fund the drilling and completion of 369 gross (158.9 net) wells, among other activities.

We also closed $530 million of acquisitions, all of which were in our Haynesville and Marcellus operating areas. Pursuant to our joint development agreements, BG Group has the right to participate for 50% of our leasing and acquisitions we close within our areas of mutual interest (AMI) in East Texas/North Louisiana and Appalachia. In addition to the acreage reimbursements noted above, during 2010 we received $151 million from BG Group for their participation in certain of our acquisitions. Assuming BG Group exercises their right to participate in the remaining 2010 transactions and the Chief Acquisition, we will receive an additional $268 million in 2011. We also contributed $144 million to our midstream affiliates during 2010.

Recent Acquisitions and Divestments

Chief Acquisition: On January 11, 2011, we closed the acquisition from Chief of over 56,000 net acres prospective for the Marcellus shale located primarily in Lycoming and Sullivan Counties in northeastern Pennsylvania along with 15 producing wells and 11 wells awaiting completion, for $459 million, subject to post closing purchase price adjustments. The purchase price was funded into escrow on December 15, 2010, pending required third party waivers which were obtained in January 2011. The acquired assets currently produce approximately 22 Mmcf per day of net production and include as many as 930 additional gross Marcellus drilling locations. These assets offset our existing acreage in the area and increase our holdings in what appears to be one of the most productive areas in the play.

Pending Appalachian Acquisition: During the fourth quarter 2010, we entered into an agreement with a private seller to acquire approximately 32,000 net acres prospective for the Marcellus shale located primarily in Jefferson County in central Pennsylvania for $95 million, before preliminary purchase price adjustments. We expect to close this acquisition in the first quarter 2011. The assets to be acquired contain approximately 3 Mmcf per day of net production from over 500 producing conventional wells which hold a substantial portion of the acquired acreage. We believe this acquisition includes as many as 340 additional gross Marcellus drilling locations and enhances our position in one of our core areas of the play.

Both groups of Appalachian assets are located within the AMI established by the existing Appalachian joint venture with BG Group, and BG Group has the right to purchase 50% of these acquisitions. Assuming BG Group elects to participate, the development of these assets will be governed by our Appalachian joint venture.

East Texas/North Louisiana

East Texas/North Louisiana is our largest division in terms of production and reserves. Our primary targets across this region include the Haynesville and Bossier shales. We also have production from the Cotton Valley, Travis Peak, Pettet and Hosston formations. Currently, our emphasis is on exploitation of our acreage in the Haynesville shale play where we hold approximately 76,000 net acres. We continue to seek additional acreage that is complementary to our existing acreage, operations and pipeline infrastructure.

Our budgeted capital expenditures in 2011 are $782 million, of which $683 million will fund the drilling and completion of 233 gross (65.2 net) horizontal shale wells (163 operated and 70 non operated). We are planning to run 22 operated rigs in this area throughout the year. In East Texas/North Louisiana, we drilled and completed 27 gross operated wells (11.6 net) in the fourth quarter 2010. We drilled and completed 92 gross operated wells (38.4 net) during the year in the region and realized a 100 % success rate.

Proved Reserves

Our estimated proved reserves have grown 56%, from 959 Bcfe at December 31, 2009 to approximately 1.5 Tcfe at December 31, 2010, calculated pursuant to SEC pricing rules, which are based on the simple average of the first of the month reference natural gas and oil prices for the prior twelve month period, adjusted for energy content, quality and basis differentials. For 2010, the reference price was $4.38 per Mmbtu for natural gas and $79.43 per Bbl for oil which resulted in an adjusted price of $4.37 per Mmbtu for natural gas and $75.83 per Bbl for oil. Using the five year futures strip price at December 31, 2010 averaging $5.23 per Mmbtu for natural gas and $93.09 per Bbl of oil, as adjusted for energy content, quality and basis differentials, our estimated proved reserves would have been 1.6 Tcfe. Pro forma for the Chief and the pending Appalachian acquisitions, we estimate our total net resource potential to be approximately 13.0 Tcfe as of December 31, 2010, assuming BG Group elects to participate in these acquisitions.

During 2010, we added 646 Bcfe of proved reserves through the drill bit and produced 112 Bcfe, resulting in a production replacement ratio of 576%. Also in 2010, we sold 143 Bcfe and purchased 30 Bcfe. We had 53 Bcfe of positive revisions due to price and 66 Bcfe of positive performance related revisions. Our proved reserves grew by 73% from the prior year, adjusted for sold reserves and price related revisions.