Gulfport Energy Corporation Has Big Upside Beyond the Utica Shale

Gulfport Energy (NASDAQ: GPOR  ) sees its production surging to an average of 55,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, or BOE/d in 2014. That's amazing growth from the 11,300 BOE/d the company averaged last year. As the following slide shows, Gulfport Energy's 2014 production growth is really a transformational event.

Source: Gulfport Energy Investor Presentation (Link opens a PDF)

While the Utica Shale is fueling a vast majority of that growth, Gulfport has a lot of upside beyond the Utica. Let's take a closer look at some of that upside.

First oil at Grizzly
Earlier this week Gulfport Energy announced that its Canadian oil sands asset, Grizzly Oil Sands, achieved first bitumen production at its Algar Lake facility. While initial production was just 30 barrels of bitumen per day, that's expected to ramp up over time with full-production expected by the middle of next year. Gulfport sees the potential for 12,000 barrels per day eventually being produced from Algar Lake.

Source Gulfport Energy Investor Presentation

Gulfport owns a 24.9% stake in Grizzly, which has an acreage position consisting of more than 829,000 net acres in the oil sands region. These acres are estimated to hold 3.1 billion barrels of contingent resources, which could fuel Gulfport's production for a long, long time. In fact, over the next few years Gulfport sees significant production growth potential as its May River project, which it recently acquired, could eventually produce 90,000 barrels per day.

Holding on to Permian Basin growth
In addition to its equity stake in Grizzly, Gulfport also owns a stake in Permian Basin focused driller Diamondback Energy (NASDAQ: FANG  ) . It currently holds a 6.7% stake in Diamondback that's worth about $216 million. However, given Diamondback's growth potential that stake could be worth a lot more in the future.

Diamondback holds 67,000 net acres in the Wolfberry play of the Permian Basin, which is just starting to be developed as a horizontal oil play. Early results from peers like Pioneer Natural Resources (NYSE: PXD  ) suggest that this switch from vertical to horizontal development could be a game-changer for the industry. In fact, some of Pioneer's early wells produced more oil in the first six months than vertically drilled wells would produce in a lifetime.

That leave a lot of upside potential for Diamondback, which has acreage positions close by some of Pioneer's oil rich wells. Given the stacked nature of the play Diamondback has a very large inventory of future drilling locations across a number of horizontal targets as the following slide shows.

Source: Diamondback Energy Investor Presentation (Link opens a PDF

With each well capable of producing more than 350,000 BOE over its lifetime, that equates to a lot of growth for Diamondback Energy, which is future upside for Gulfport Energy.

Investor takeaway
The Utica Shale is clearly what will fuel Gulfport Energy's production growth this year. However, the company's equity positions in Grizzly and Diamondback give it compelling upside to both the Canadian oil sands and the oil-rich Permian Basin of Texas. That means Gulfport's growth will be coming from more places than just the Utica shale.

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