If you're looking to participate in the two most active unconventional gas and liquids plays in the United States -- the Williston Basin and the Eagle Ford -- without a weather reporter looking over your shoulder, you may find the going a little tough.
For instance, companies working in the active Williston Basin, such as Kodiak Oil & Gas (NYSE: KOG ) , along with Brigham Exploration (Nasdaq: BEXP ) , Whiting Petroleum (NYSE: WLL ) , and Oasis Petroleum (NYSE: OAS ) , have all fired off missives indicating lower-than-anticipated production for the second quarter. The culprit boils down to Old Man Winter having been especially heavy-handed in North Dakota and Montana, where the Williston primarily resides. The record snowfall, unrelenting rains, and flooding have impeded operations, especially those involving transportation.
Conversely, those companies attempting to make hay in the Eagle Ford of South Texas can be excused for keeping their eyes affixed to the sky in search of clouds that just might presage a break that area's now-record drought, ensuring the continued availability of water for fracking operations. But that's another story.
Looking specifically at Kodiak, the company has noted that while spring has nearly run its course, "current conditions continue to make operations challenging." And although the ultimate effects remain somewhat beyond even management's ken, the company needn't be handed a tin cup: Estimates continue to have second-quarter sales volumes topping the sequentially prior first quarter by an impressive 35%.
To the extent that CEO Lynn Peterson and his team are willing to take a stab at full-year 2011 predictions, it appears that the average daily output will fall in a range of 4,500 barrels of oil equivalent per day (BOE/d) to 5,000 BOE/d, versus an earlier forecast of 5,500 BOE/d to 6,500 BOE/d. At the same time, a projected exit rate for the year near 9,000 BOE/d continues to appear reasonable, thanks in part to an unchanged capital budget of $230 million.
Further, despite Mr. Winter's antics, the company is projecting an increase in the total number of wells to be drilled during the year. From prior guidance of 38 gross and 23.4 net wells, Kodiak's anticipated activity level has been moved up to 42 gross and 26 net wells.
There's a simple way to characterize winter's effects in the Williston Basin: It happens. Far more important, as CEO Peterson noted, "When we have been able to produce our wells, the results continue to be very encouraging." However, should you have an inkling of spreading your geographic risk somewhat to other liquids plays, you might consider doing so through the likes of Continental Resources (NYSE: CLR ) or Chesapeake Energy (NYSE: CHK ) .
For my money, however, Kodiak is a solid company with extremely compelling prospects. You can easily obtain help in monitoring its progress by listing it on your version of My Watchlist.