The oil market might be in the second year of its deepest downturn in decades, but that’s not stopping oil companies from making plans for when conditions improve.
Take Crescent Point Energy Corp. (TSX:CPG)(NYSE:CPG), which recently sought approval to drill up to 3,925 new wells on a 35-mile swath of land in Utah’s Uinta Basin. It’s a play that requires a long-term mindset to develop given that hundreds of miles of new roads and pipelines also need to be built to support the development.
On hold, but ready to explode
Crescent Point originally acquired its position in the Uinta Basin through an acquisition it completed in 2012. It has been investing heavily in the basin since then, though it has pulled back the reins on spending now that oil is lower.
For 2016, the company only plans to spend 7% of its capex budget on the play, which is down from 12% last year. Further, the budget itself is down; the company only plans to spend $950 million to $1.3 billion this year after spending $1.6 billion last year.
However, with a 5.2 billion barrel original oil-in-place (OOIP) resource, Crescent Point sees very compelling long-term upside from the play. In fact, the company estimates that it can develop this play for more than 50 years at current recovery and drilling rates. It’s a fairly economic play to develop even at current oil prices; the company expects to generate a 22-44% rate of return at a $35 oil price depending on well costs and estimated production.
It’s not alone in being bullish on this play. U.S. peer Newfield Exploration Co. (NYSE:NFX) is proposing to drill upwards of 5,700 wells in the region with hopes to drill up to 250 wells per year once it gets going. That’s a huge step up for a company that’s only investing a minimal amount of capital in the Uinta this year due to lower oil prices as well as the fact that it currently earns better returns from its SCOOP/STACK assets in Oklahoma.
Lots of running room
The Uinta Basin is just one of a growing number of enormous oil resources under Crescent Point’s control. The company estimates that there was whopping 15.2 billion barrels of OOIP underneath its acreage in Saskatchewan and North Dakota. To date, only 3% of that oil has been recovered, leaving it significant running room to develop this resource.
The bulk of that oil is located in the Shaunavon and Viewfield Bakken plays, which have 10.1 billion barrels of OOIP between them. Of the two, the Viewfield Bakken is currently the most economic play to develop with Crescent Point earning a rate of return as high as 120% at a $35 oil price depending on the production rate. That said, it doesn’t have quite the running room as the Uinta; Crescent Point has a decade’s worth of drilling inventory at its current drilling pace.
Crescent Point is sitting atop massive oil accumulations that should drive growth for decades to come. Even better, these plays are still solidly profitable at current oil prices. That’s a powerful combination that has Crescent Point very enthusiastic about its future.