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Diamondback Energy Inc  (NASDAQ:FANG)
Q4 2018 Earnings Conference Call
Feb. 20, 2019, 10:00 a.m. ET

Contents:

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Diamondback Energy Fourth Quarter 2018 Earnings Conference Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later, we will conduct a question-and-answer session and instructions will follow at that time. As a reminder, this conference is being recorded.

I would now like to introduce your host for today's conference Adam Lawlis, Director of Investor Relations. Sir, you may begin.

Adam Lawlis -- Director Of Investor Relations

Thank you, Tuanda. Good morning and welcome to Diamondback Energy's fourth quarter 2018 conference call. During our call today, we will reference an updated investor presentation, which can be found on Diamondback's website. Representing Diamondback today are Travis Stice, CEO; Mike Hollis, President and COO and Tracy Dick, CFO.

During this conference call, the participants may make certain forward-looking statements relating to the Company's financial condition, results of operations, plans, objectives, future performance and businesses. We caution you that actual results could differ materially from those that are indicated in these forward-looking statements due to a variety of factors. Information concerning these factors can be found in the Company's filings with the SEC. In addition, we will make reference to certain non-GAAP measures. The reconciliations with the appropriate GAAP measures can be found in our earnings release issued yesterday afternoon.

I'll now turn the call over to Travis Stice.

Travis D. Stice -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

Thank you Adam. Welcome, everyone and thank you for listening to Diamondback's fourth quarter 2018 conference call. 2018 was another transformational year for Diamondback. We successfully closed three large acquisitions in the fourth quarter, including our acquisition of Energen, which combined nearly doubled our core acreage position. Diamondback now has over 364,000 net acres in the core of the Midland and Delaware basins along with another 96,000 net acres of Permian assets, the majority of which are on the Central Basin Platform, which we are working to divest as part of our grow and prune strategy.

Diamondback grew production 53% year-over-year without giving the effect to the Energen merger and exited the year producing over 250,000 BOEs per day in December after closing the merger. Our reserves are up almost 200% year-over-year to just shy of 1 billion barrels of oil equivalent and our organic reserve replacement ratio for 2019 was over 450%. Drill bit F&D was essentially flat year-over-year at $7.28 a barrel and proved developed F&D was $10.44, highlighting the combination of our acreage quality and capital efficient cost structure.

Commodity prices declined dramatically in the fourth quarter and as a result of this volatility, Diamondback outspent the cash flow for the quarter. This is against our core operating philosophy and we reacted as quickly as possible after closing the merger by announcing a reduction in activity for 2019 and subsequently dropped three operating drilling rigs and two completion crews over the course of last few months.

Moving to 2019, we trimmed our capital budget versus previously described expectations in December and we still expect to grow production 27% year-over-year, while also paying 50% larger dividend than we did in 2018, all within operating cash flow. As Mike will explain in detail later on in this call, we are realizing more synergies faster than expected after closing the Energen merger, all of which are reflected in our capital budget and projected operating costs in 2019.

Lastly, we are actively working on dropping down the remaining mineral and royalty assets held at the Diamondback level to Viper and expect to do so at some point in 2019. With these comments now complete, I'll turn the call over to Mike.

Michael L. Hollis -- President and Chief Operating Officer

Thank you, Travis. Turning to Slide 8 through 10, we give an early time update on both the primary and secondary synergies presented when we announced our merger with Energen last August. The highest value primary synergy presented during the merger announcement was a reduction to Midland Basin well cost. Based on the midpoint of our 2019 cost per completed lateral foot guidance for the Midland Basin of $785, Diamondback expects to save $215 per foot versus Energen's second quarter 2018 actual cost, or over 95% of what we expected to achieve per foot by early 2020 in the merger presentation.

This savings is not only attributed to the immediate implementation of Diamondback best practices on Energen acreage, but also due to some efficiencies the Diamondback team has learned and implemented from legacy Energen best practices. Also the benefit of size, scale and buying power on service costs have been greater than originally anticipated. Running these savings through 40% of our Midland Basin well count for the year results in almost $150 million in capital savings.

In the Delaware Basin, we're seeing enough improvements to move what was originally a secondary synergy into the primary synergy bucket. In 2019, we expect to save between $55 and $60 per completed lateral foot versus actual Energen well cost and those primarily due to multi-well pads, longer laterals, completion and casing designs, as well as the cost benefit realized associated with larger scale. Overall, we expect Delaware Basin well cost to decrease by almost 7% versus 2018, again due to improved efficiencies, completion design and service cost concessions.

As also seen on Page 8, Diamondback has realized all of the expected $30 million to $40 million of G&A synergies earlier than anticipated, which are fully reflected in our 2019 guidance. Looking ahead, we have line of sight of even more combined capital, operating, midstream and mineral synergies and we look forward to updating the synergy scorecard with these initiatives in progress.

With these comments now complete, I'll turn the call over to Tracy.

Teresa L. Dick -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Thank you Mike. Diamondback's fourth quarter 2018 net income was $2.50 per diluted share and our net income adjusted for non-cash derivatives and other items was $1.21 per diluted share. Our consolidated adjusted EBITDA for the quarter was $468 million and our cash operating costs were $8.10 per BOE, including LOE of $4.51, cash G&A of $0.67 per BOE.

During the quarter, Diamondback spent $424 million on drilling, completion and non-operated property and $101 million on infrastructure and midstream. For the year ended 2018, we spent $1.4 billion on drilling, completion and non-operated properties and $306 million on infrastructure and midstream. Diamondback ended the fourth quarter of 2018 with $192 million in stand-alone cash and approximately $1.5 billion of outstanding borrowings under its revolving credit facility, resulting in $700 million of liquidity.

Finally Diamondback's Board of Directors has declared a cash dividend for the fourth quarter of $0.125 per common share payable on February 28, 2019 to shareholders of record at the close of business on February 21, 2019.

Operator, please open the line for questions.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

(Operator Instructions) Our first question comes from the line of John Nelson with Goldman Sachs. Your line is open.

John C. Nelson -- Goldman Sachs Group Inc. -- Analyst

Good morning and congratulations to the team on the velocity of synergy capture, quite impressive.

Michael L. Hollis -- President and Chief Operating Officer

Thank you, John.

John C. Nelson -- Goldman Sachs Group Inc. -- Analyst

Starting maybe Travis with your view on the share repurchases and the capital pecking order and in particular, your share count's up about 70%. Your stock is down about 20% in the last year. So with that in mind, I'm just curious how the Company thinks about share repurchases, both with potential monetization proceeds as well as 2020 free cash flow?

Travis D. Stice -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

Certainly, John, it's key to get to that point first before we have meaningful conversations with Wall Street exactly on what we're going to do, but I think what we've signaled in the past is that shareholder friendly initiatives such as share repurchases, a continued focus on increasing the dividend, all of those things are within our bandwidth of what we can do in the form of returning cash to our investors. And as we progress through 2019 and start seeing the focus on 2020 and the significant free cash flow generation that's going to occur then, I think that's the more appropriate time. But I'm -- we've committed to continue to grow the dividend and continue to focus on these shareholder-friendly initiatives.

John C. Nelson -- Goldman Sachs Group Inc. -- Analyst

Fair enough. And then second question, I think the original guidance targeted something to around $50 WTI to be kind of cash flow neutral. We're a bit above that on kind of strip today. I guess, philosophically the Company going to continue target a $50 type commodity price or would you all average potentially, if oil prices remain a bit stronger?

Travis D. Stice -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

No, I think at this point, John, we've got a pretty good long-term strategy laid out at $50 a barrel. And I think as commodity price improves back half of this year, maybe into 2020, you could look at us to perhaps add one to two rigs in 2020 and beyond with the significant free cash flow I was talking about. But I think the point that we made in our December call, which represented a strategic pivot for Diamondback specifically addressed the wave of free cash flow that's coming, that the pivot is that we're not going to redeploy that all back into the ground, we're going to start returning that to our shareholders. We began that again this year by increasing our dividend as well. So that's the pivot that we've made and we're committed to continue to look at that even as commodity prices improve.

John C. Nelson -- Goldman Sachs Group Inc. -- Analyst

Thanks. Congrats again on the quarter.

Travis D. Stice -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

Great. Thank you, John.

Operator

Our next question comes from the line of Derrick Whitfield with Stifel. Your line is now open.

Derrick Lee Whitfield -- Stifel, Nicolaus & Company -- Analyst

Thanks. Good morning all and congrats on a strong quarter and outlook.

Travis D. Stice -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

Thank you Derrick.

Michael L. Hollis -- President and Chief Operating Officer

Thanks Derrick.

Derrick Lee Whitfield -- Stifel, Nicolaus & Company -- Analyst

Perhaps for Travis, with regard to your secondary and other synergies, would it be fair to think that those synergies could exceed $2 million in aggregate?

Travis D. Stice -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

We put a scorecard together and it's what we call our synergy scorecard, it's on Slide 8 of our investor deck. And we're going to continue to lean into delivering all those synergies that we described in the acquisition call in August. And look I'm optimistic that we can continue to improve on all of these metrics. We've talked about in my prepared comments that we're working on a drop down from Diamondback to Viper and the midstream assets are all rolled into our midstream Energen -- midstream assets are all rolled in. So these are all those secondary synergies that we've already got tremendous traction behind delivering on those in 2019.

But we're going to continue to update the market on this synergy scorecard. And as these things materialize, we'll look forward to telling a really good story around these additional synergies above and beyond what we talked about in August.

Michael L. Hollis -- President and Chief Operating Officer

I think what's important Derrick is that we based the trade on -- the merger with Energen on the cost synergies in the execution side of the business, and the other synergies mentioned, minerals and midstream are really more on the financial side. So, we predicated the deal on the execution and operation side and that's what we're most focused on today.

Derrick Lee Whitfield -- Stifel, Nicolaus & Company -- Analyst

Great. And then shifting over to the Delaware, regarding the Bone Spring shale well that you guys announced in Pecos, that's a particularly strong well given the decline attributes of that interval. How does that result change your view on capital allocation to the area, if at all?

Travis D. Stice -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

We are certainly excited about that. The reason we're excited is that, that's a zone or a couple of zones that we didn't describe any value to during the original Delaware acquisition. So, we are excited that we're seeing really good positive results. And we are going to be cautious -- I mean, and as we further define that zone, but, I think we've probably got half of those on or so, on the drill schedule this year, and we'll monitor results and just like we always do, we'll react quickly if we get greater returns on those zones or we'll allocate more dollars to the highest rate of return stuff, so it's good news, all the way around. That's good news because it's unrecognized upside that we're now bringing to the table and it's a good news for our inventory count in Pecos County.

Derrick Lee Whitfield -- Stifel, Nicolaus & Company -- Analyst

All right great. Thanks for taking my questions and strong -- and it's very strong update.

Travis D. Stice -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

Thank you, Derrick.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from the line of Neal Dingmann with SunTrust. Your line is open.

Neal David Dingmann -- SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Inc. -- Analyst

Good morning all. Travis, I mean my first question is around the infrastructure spend. Could you talk a bit just in this sort of guide you have for this year? I know you had a bit of a like what for -- in last year, a bit of a higher infrastructure spend then, how you see that trending now on the FANG corporate wide going forward?

Michael L. Hollis -- President and Chief Operating Officer

Yeah, Neal. I'll take this one, our infra spend and midstream spend is going to be $400 million to $450 million for 2019. Infrastructure is a bit higher on the battery side because we are doing bigger pads and we're drilling in areas that have no existing wells. I mean that was one of the primary reasons we did the Energen trade, it was how much completely undeveloped acreage they had and that resulted in us needing to build a lot more batteries than expected. The midstream budget should decline over time and hopefully that's in a separate business going forward. But overall, probably 60%, 65% first half weighted on the total infrastructure and midstream spend and then 40% in the back half of the year.

Neal David Dingmann -- SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Inc. -- Analyst

Yeah. Great details. And then Travis, just overall question, you mentioned in the press release about obviously refraining from outspending cash flow enough to be one of the first to adjust the plan. I guess when you look at this plan, I mean, how do you sort of balance -- I definitely appreciate that, but how do you balance that with more just sort of a continually or a stability of your plan versus changing that rig count or that activity more frequent to keep balancing that?

Travis D. Stice -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

Well, we've got to make sure we don't interrupt the efficiency of the Diamondback machine, that's one thing that Diamondback is really known for is a really outstanding execution. And so we can't disrupt the machine, by that same token, Neal, we can't outspend cash flow either. We've not done that for four years and we're -- and although we had an aberration in the fourth quarter of last year, it's just not part of how we run the business.

And we would have actually dropped activity quicker in the fourth quarter last year, but we were on multi-well pads and that makes no sense at all to stop finished -- to stop completion on the mid -- run on the mid multi-well pads. So we take that into account and you typically don't see that from the outside looking in, but we're committed to capital discipline. This is a monster that we've been demonstrating since OPEC announcement in the fall of 2014 and the subsequent price collapse, that's Diamondback -- that's what we're known for.

Neal David Dingmann -- SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Inc. -- Analyst

Very good. Thank you, both.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from the line of Gail Nicholson with Stephens. Your line is open.

Gail Amanda Nicholson Dodds -- Stephens -- Analyst

Good morning. Just looking at LOE and kind of your thoughts on how that will trend throughout '19? And then outside of the potential sale of the Central Basin Platform, are there other things that you are working on to further improve LOE in the future kind of that '20 (ph) forward aspect?

Travis D. Stice -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

Yeah, Gail, I'll let Mike answer that question. But you've heard me say before until someone actually pays us to produce these barrels, we're going to always lean into a -- lean into our LOE and try to make that lower tomorrow versus what it is today. So, I'll let Mike give you the real answer to that, but we always focus on LOE.

Michael L. Hollis -- President and Chief Operating Officer

Absolutely, Gail. Again, we are attack it to -- on two fronts, the end volume, increasing health as well. But a lot of it's on the dollars that we spend. So again bringing Energen and Diamondback together, we've done a really good job of grabbing synergies and finding ways to do things better, so there's areas and things that we've learned from the Energen folks, that we're implementing today, as well as the other way around.

So what we hope to see is a lower gross dollar amount spend as well as a growing production volume. So to kind of give you an idea the Central Basin Platform accounts for about $0.50 of our LOE today. So again assuming a sale of the Central Basin Platform that would come off of our guide. But on a go-forward basis again, it's going to be a nice slow drop in LOE, assuming we can implement all of the initiatives that we're working on today.

Gail Amanda Nicholson Dodds -- Stephens -- Analyst

Great. And then just looking at the potential drop down into Viper, when you look at Diamondback's ownership in Viper, is there a appropriate level that you guys want to maintain on a go-forward basis?

Travis D. Stice -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

Yeah, Gail. I think it's fair to assume that Diamondback owning 59% of Viper, we certainly enjoy owning as much of that business as possible. And if the parent company is generating free cash flow, I don't see a need for the parent company to take back cash in any transaction there. So, certainly I think Diamondback is looking to increase its ownership and Viper post the drop down.

Gail Amanda Nicholson Dodds -- Stephens -- Analyst

Great. And just one last one, several quarters ago you guys brought up the Limelight prospect and doing some appraisal activity in '19 . I'm just kind of curious how that fits into the portfolio today?

Travis D. Stice -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

Yeah. We're probably going to test it sometime in the middle of this year.

Gail Amanda Nicholson Dodds -- Stephens -- Analyst

Great. Thanks, guys.

Travis D. Stice -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

Thank you.

Operator

Our next question comes from the line of Asit Sen with Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Your line is open.

Asit Kumar Sen -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

Thanks. Good morning. So I've two questions, one on synergy. Mike, I think you mentioned about increased buying power and just wondering now that you're more scale could you talk about specific incremental efforts on the supply chain, rebidding contracts etcetera? And then how you are thinking differently about the mix of long-term and short-term contracts? That's from my first question.

Michael L. Hollis -- President and Chief Operating Officer

Absolutely. So again, when we looked at the two entities apart, we went through and we didn't use all of the same services and vendors as well. So we went through and grabbed whichever ones appeared to have the better quality, service and price and we initially did that day one and swapped out some services on both the Diamondback and Energen side. Again with the size and scale, we have seen a larger change in price associated with the decrease in commodity prices that we've seen, so we've gone back in actually bidding a larger package, we've seen an increase in that, that change in what we are getting charged.

Again, it's a hard number to tie down, so we've gone back to the vendors and business partners and asked if you were just Diamondback stand-alone what is that difference. And it looks like it's roughly -- of the change, roughly 20% of that change is what we're seeing for size and scale. Now, as far as how long we plan on tying up services, again, right now, we keep just like we do on any other thing we hedge, we keep a hedge book of what we have long-term contracts with and what we have more of a well-to-well. But in general, we're looking at six months to a year on most things.

Asit Kumar Sen -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

Okay. Thanks. And Travis a big picture question, as the industry moves more toward manufacturing style, where do you see use of technology and what are you most excited about? In last quarter, you talked about dual fuel operation in one of the rigs in Delaware, could you perhaps update us on the economic benefits you're seeing so far in plans going forward?

Travis D. Stice -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

Yeah. I'll let Mike talk specifically about our dual fuel operations, but listen, technology in our industry in particular any manufacturing business can have a chance to make a huge impact to the efficiency of the operations and we think that that's going to happen inside our industry as more and more advanced technologies come to bear. And those things are whether it's the way that we transport fluids, the transport media, the actual proppants, the technology which we steer these wells in zone, the real-time feedback and all the way up to artificial intelligence, these are all things that we believe are going to make a large change in the efficiency of the manufacturing process called producing and drilling for barrels out here in the Permian. I'll let Mike answer the dual fuel question.

Michael L. Hollis -- President and Chief Operating Officer

So Asit, the dual fuel we are currently running two frac fleet. So dual fuel, we have I believe five rigs currently running dual fuel. So again, where it makes sense, where we have the availability and the equipment already converted, we're making those moves any where it makes sense to do it today. On the implementation of new technology, of course, we use real-time data analytics on the drilling side, the completion side, basically all of the things Travis mentioned a second ago, the answer is yes on all of those from how we're doing our processing of our seismic data to how we steer complete and land these wells. So the answer is yes, we're seeing a faster change of progress today than we've had in the last decade or two, which is what you would expect. But we see great things coming, we're not going to guide to any of those changes because we don't have them here today, but we're very hopeful for what's coming.

Asit Kumar Sen -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

Appreciate the color. Thanks.

Travis D. Stice -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

Thanks, Asit.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from the line of Ryan Todd with Simmons Energy. Your line is open.

Ryan Todd -- Simmons Energy -- Analyst

Good. Thanks. Maybe a high-level question, I mean, you've -- over the last couple of quarters you talked that you've got -- you've shifted your focus somewhat toward greater free cash flow generation. How do you think about a target for -- longer-term targets for free cash flow generation at this point? Is it reasonable for you to move toward the free cash flow yield that's competitive with the broader market? And how do you think about the timing of how that plays out whether you make a conscious effort toward it or whether it just happens organically within the portfolio?

Michael L. Hollis -- President and Chief Operating Officer

It's really both I mean it's going to happen. We've made a conscious effort to do so and that's why we pared back activity to increase our cash flow, but it's also going to be happening organically, as we continue to look into the future. I mean, as I mentioned in some earlier comments 2020 and beyond we probably will add one to two rigs, but will still be in the process of generating significant free cash flow and that's what really has us excited about this new company that we've combined with Energen as -- just really that significant free cash flow generation that starts in 2020 and beyond?

Ryan Todd -- Simmons Energy -- Analyst

Thanks. Maybe as a follow-up to that, I mean, historically you've been a material consolidator in the basin and a very successful consolidator. I mean, how would you characterize and I know you just closed the deal, but M&A appetite and the M&A environment at this point. And previously, you had commented how to use the free cash would allow you to potentially use some of that cash to fund more cash-driven deals as opposed to stock-driven deals, is that still part of the strategy -- is it less part of the strategy than it was previously? Any comments overall on that would be great.

Travis D. Stice -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

Yeah. So specifically to Diamondback what we're focused on right now is we continue to do small bolt-on trades to make sure we can operate these units and drill longer laterals and operating them with greater efficiency and so we're continuing to do that. The other really business development focus that we're really digging into right now is continued focus on doing swaps and trades with some of the scattered acreage that we acquired to the Energen assets. And so that's what our land teams particularly, our little business development organization is right now doing that trade.

From a macro sense, it's obviously been real -- we think it's been real quiet on the M&A front. And I think there's a reason for that, that is it, all operators are trying to respond to living within cash flow and the days of buy an undeveloped acreage with one or two wells on it, in terms of not being able to be accretive on a cash flow perspective, those days are behind us. So Diamondback, we always have an obligation to our shareholders to try to look for -- to look for deals that can rate unreasonable value, but the bottom line is right now we don't see lot of those -- any of those deals out there. And we're focused on doing the small bolt-ons and the trades.

Ryan Todd -- Simmons Energy -- Analyst

Thanks, Travis. I appreciate that.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from the line of Tim Rezvan with Oppenheimer. Your line is open.

Timothy A. Rezvan -- Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. -- Analyst

Hi. Good morning, folks. First question I had is on realizations on Slide 13 of your deck. You gave some kind of guidance quarter-by-quarter through 2019. I was wondering, if you could talk about the assumptions I guess, in the first and second quarter of '19 because you appear to have more Midland exposure in the second quarter of '19, but you're guiding to tighter differentials. So maybe just kind of broadly talk about sort of what assumptions you have that are underlying this guidance?

Michael L. Hollis -- President and Chief Operating Officer

Yeah, Tim. So the assumptions are the market prices on a core basis as of last Friday, so you can use the strip as of a couple days ago and use that as your assumption for price. Now the Midland differentials coming significantly in the past couple of months and it's projected to stay pretty narrow. So, a couple of our deals roll off at the end of the first quarter.

One of our deals goes down in differential at the end of the first quarter. So we -- once we realized how large (inaudible) what enterprise is looking to do on the NGL side conversion. We stopped signing any fixed differential deals. So leaving that exposure to the Midland market, we're happy for the majority of our barrels to be exposed to that Midland market as we've kind of gone through the takeaway crisis that was expected in 2018 and 2019.

Timothy A. Rezvan -- Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. -- Analyst

Okay. That's helpful. I appreciate that. My next question I guess is for Travis, if you could put sort of Director hat on now. Diamondback has always had one of the more honest and transparent discretionary comp kind of formulas in the industry. As the Company has matured and as you talk now about return on capital employed and free cash flow generation, can you talk about how kind of if at all the Board is thinking about appropriate discretionary comp metrics for senior management? Just trying to understand kind of where -- what the priorities are over the medium-term future?

Travis D. Stice -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

Tim, I appreciate your comment on transparency. We've built Diamondback around three kind of core tenants, best-in-class execution, low cost operations and transparency, and that's been part of us since the very beginning. So I appreciate your transparency comments. Really, I think, Tim, what we did in 2015, I think we were one of the first companies to do so, the comp and it's not just executive comp, because we apply that same metrics to everyone in the organization, but we changed the comp focus away from growth in volumes and reserves. In fact, we removed those entirely from our scorecard and instead replaced them with efficiency measures.

And those efficiency measures are proxies for returns, return on capital employed or other returns measures. So, that has continued going forward in the future. And while we've not set the focus for -- we've not set the scorecard yet for 2019, I anticipate the Board to again come back to the things that we think are important, which is generating high returns to our investors and keeping our operating metrics pristine and our execution still best in class. And so that's the way we -- that's the way we've gone -- I anticipate the Board to continue to go in 2019. It's -- I think it served us well over the last several years.

Timothy A. Rezvan -- Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. -- Analyst

Okay. And just to -- little more clarity, you talk about high -- good returns for investors. Can you talk about what you mean, is that return on capital employed? Is that cash margin? Is that all of those things?

Travis D. Stice -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

Well, the efficiency measures that we put in 2015 were -- we use them for proxies as the numerator and the denominator for return on capital employed. And we did so, so that we could build a track record of being able to see what our return measures look like. I think in most all of our investor presentations for the last several quarters for sure, if not longer than that, we've included return on capital employed measure. So again, we haven't decided what 2019 is going to look like, but it's certainly going to be returns focused for -- toward our investors.

Timothy A. Rezvan -- Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. -- Analyst

Okay. Thanks for the comments.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from the line of Mike Kelly with Seaport Global. Your line is open.

Michael Dugan Kelly -- Seaport Global Securities -- Analyst

Hi, guys. Good morning. Travis, I was hoping you could potentially frame or just give a little bit more color on the mineral dropdown opportunity. I guess I'm really just trying to get a sense of how impactful this could be for you guys? Thanks.

Michael L. Hollis -- President and Chief Operating Officer

Yeah, Mike. I mean there is a significant amount of minerals still held at the Diamondback level prior to the Energen deal. It's probably about 2,000 net acres that Diamondback just owns still at the parent level. The Energen deal adds another $60 million to $80 million or so of cash flow. So we're trying to rightsize that deal. I think it's going to be very sizable trade, meaningful to both Viper and Diamondback and near billion dollar type trade.

Michael Dugan Kelly -- Seaport Global Securities -- Analyst

Okay. I appreciate that. And kind of following on to Gail's question on this. It sounds like you would -- the mechanics of that deal would be more of you'd take Viper shares -- more weighted to Viper share versus cash. Am I thinking about that correctly or how should I think about that?

Travis D. Stice -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

Yeah. We've really -- those -- we've got -- we had some Board conversations on exactly how we're going to realize that value, but that's probably a good assumption at this point.

Michael Dugan Kelly -- Seaport Global Securities -- Analyst

Okay. Great. And then shifting gears to the Northern Delaware, the results there look pretty awesome. And just curious what the game plan looks like for the Northern Delaware in 2019. Maybe we could just talk about expected activity levels, wells put on line, et cetera.

Travis D. Stice -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

Yeah. That's one of the things I'm really excited about in this quarter's release, and it's probably well results are not the focus I understand that in anybody's quarterly release, but those four wells that we delivered in (inaudible) area, which is quite honestly now the best stuff in Diamondback's portfolio, and we acquired after managing those four wells. I think there were over 400 barrels oil per foot. Those are some of the -- those are the best wells we've ever drilled. So, obviously those -- that area is going to get as much capital allocation as we can put in there as quickly as we can.

Michael Dugan Kelly -- Seaport Global Securities -- Analyst

Got it. Maybe just a quick follow-up on that. Are you comfortable giving kind of a ballpark number how much acreage you have exposed around there?

Michael L. Hollis -- President and Chief Operating Officer

I'll just kind of talk rig count, we're going to run probably four or five rigs in that area. It's probably 50,000 or 60,000 total acres in the quarter there.

Michael Dugan Kelly -- Seaport Global Securities -- Analyst

Great. Thanks, guys.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from the line of Drew Venker with Morgan Stanley. Your line is open.

Andrew Elliot Venker -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Hi, everyone. I wanted to follow up on to that free cash flow comments you guys had made, and appreciate maybe it's too early to talk about specifically how you'll be returning cash, but maybe you can talk about your targets for leverage and if you're still hoping to strengthen the balance sheet further and how your Viper stake plays and how you think about that leverage?

Travis D. Stice -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

Drew, I think one-time proceeds, asset sales, proceeds from minerals or our midstream business go toward debt reduction at the parent company, any return to shareholders whether that's a buyback or the dividend should come from true free cash flow in our opinion. We still want to maintain below 2 times leverage at the parent company on a consolidated basis, but we also don't want to lever up any of our subs about 2 times either.

Andrew Elliot Venker -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

(inaudible) Thanks.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from the line of Jeff Grampp with Northland Capital Markets. Your line is open.

Jeffrey Scott Grampp -- Northland Capital Markets -- Analyst

Good morning, guys. I noticed you guys had a nice upward provision on the drilling inventory number. It looks like you're pushing almost 30 years now inventory. So, just wondering, do you feel that's a good level for inventory or maybe you guys can look opportunistically to monetize some of that tailwind or just high level thoughts on how the right level of inventory for you guys?

Travis D. Stice -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

Yeah, Jeff. We've been very clear on the grow and prune strategy that the Central Basin Platform is certainly up for sale and that process is ongoing. At this point, with the remaining inventory certainly we would look to dispose of some inventory at the back end of our 30 years of drilling inventory, but we're not actively working on any of that today given the commodity price environment.

Jeffrey Scott Grampp -- Northland Capital Markets -- Analyst

All right, great. Great, I appreciate that. And then just on the well cost side, a little bit curious how you guys kind of envision '19 playing out, and then kind of looking maybe into some -- an early sneak peek at what '20 -- how that flows through to '20? So can you guys talk maybe a little bit how do current well costs compare to the guidance that you guys put out and maybe how the things look like at year end, just relative to what's kind of baked into the guidance numbers that you guys have?

Michael L. Hollis -- President and Chief Operating Officer

Jeff, the current costs that we're seeing today is pretty well baked into our guidance. Now, going forward, it's all going to be depending upon typically what activity in oil price does. But what we're seeing right now is we're having much better conversations with folks today. So, we assume some softening will happen over the next couple -- or the next quarter, at least.

Again, it's going to depend on what happens in the second half of the year. But for right now, we're planning for basically service cost and well cost to stay flat. A lot of the synergies and initiatives we're working on today will have some timed-out event. What we've talked about is what we have today, but we have some other initiatives that we're working on that should come to fruition throughout the year. So we see well cost coming down very slightly throughout the year unless there's some other change in activity level.

Jeffrey Scott Grampp -- Northland Capital Markets -- Analyst

All right. Really helpful, Mike. And just if I can sneak an housekeeping one, can you guys disclose kind of ballpark what the platform assets are producing today?

Michael L. Hollis -- President and Chief Operating Officer

7,000 to 8,000 barrels a day.

Jeffrey Scott Grampp -- Northland Capital Markets -- Analyst

All right. Great. Thanks guys. Appreciate the time, guys.

Michael L. Hollis -- President and Chief Operating Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from line of Jason Wangler with Imperial Capital. Your line is open.

Jason Andrew Wangler -- Imperial Capital -- Analyst

Hi. Good morning, everyone. Just had one obviously, a lot on the call already, but just curious on the hedging side. Obviously, the debt is a little bit higher now, but you'll be working some of that opportunities like as the year goes on. Where do you guys get comfortable on the overall hedges? The basis is kind of covered, but just where should we be thinking about the hedge profile as the bigger company now moves forward?

Travis D. Stice -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

Yeah, Jason. I think our strategy has changed a bit as we become a big -- become a bigger company. In the past, it was let's protect the minimum capital required to hold our acreage position together and now it's kind of shifting toward -- we did disclose this number of 14 rigs to maintain exit-to-exit production, which is about $1.5 billion $1.6 billion of total capital. I think on a go-forward basis, we are going to look to hedge probably that maintenance capital, and then everything above that is exposure to the investors for both growth and oil price.

Andrew Elliot Venker -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

I appreciate that. I'll turn it back. Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from the line of Charles Meade with Johnson Rice. Your line is open.

Charles Arthur Meade -- Johnson Rice & Company -- Analyst

Good morning, Travis, you and your team there.

Travis D. Stice -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

Hi, Charles.

Charles Arthur Meade -- Johnson Rice & Company -- Analyst

I wanted you to look at Slide 14 and actually kind of more of a big picture question particularly about your inventory versus your peers. So, you guys have (inaudible) lower inventory per foot, but I can imagine that converging one or two ways with the industry down to you or you increasing your location up -- count up to be more even with the industry. I have a guess, which way that that's likely converge with, I'm curious, what would your guess would be?

Travis D. Stice -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

Charles, the way that we've always managed reserves, location count, production guidance is that we want to be conservative in the way that we communicate, because a lot of things happened in our industry and typically they'll always take things away. So in our experience, particularly as it pertains to inventory well, inventory count, it's a lot easier to add locations as well results and technology allows those locations to be there than it is to start taking them away. And as you've seen the reserve numbers start coming out this year, I think that's one of the first indications is a negative performance revisions in our industry.

And most of those negative performance revisions are going to be attributed to wells being drilled too tightly and reserve auditors taking -- walking those locations back. So, we are very comfortable that we have sort of an at least view of what our inventory looks like and earlier on the call someone actually calculated a 30-year worth inventory. So, we don't feel a compelling need to start adding a bunch of locations just in the form of sticks on a map. So, we're comfortable where we are right now and we'll add as technology and well results dictate.

Charles Arthur Meade -- Johnson Rice & Company -- Analyst

Got it. And then to push a little further on this Travis, if the industry in general -- just generally speaking, not the case for you guys, but did get a little to close and they are backing up and going more like spacing, more like yours. It seems to me that, that would lead to probably better individual well results and more productivity in the near term, but in the mid-to-longer term, it would mean there's less quality inventory that then was thought maybe six or nine to 12 months ago. Does that -- do you see it that same way or is that not some you --

Travis D. Stice -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

That's right. That's the way I think about it Charles, absolutely.

Charles Arthur Meade -- Johnson Rice & Company -- Analyst

Got it. Got it. And then if I could just sneak in one more, you talked a lot about grow and prune strategy and that makes sense. I'm curious, you've got some kind of far-flung assets whether it be kind of in Southern Upton or Regan or Lee, are those kind of active interests that you're trying to trade now or is the trade activity more in the middle of the development fairways that you're seeing?

Travis D. Stice -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

It's a combination, Charles, we probably have eight or nine active trades right now ranging from 160 (ph) acres swap to 1,000 plus acres swap. So, all options are on the table, the real prune is the Central Basin Platform, but as we talked about Page 14, as long as we can keep working on that average lateral lengths going up with us drilling, 9,400 average lateral feet per well this year to get that inventory number up, our land and BD teams, we've successfully executed on our grow and prune strategy.

Charles Arthur Meade -- Johnson Rice & Company -- Analyst

Got it. Thanks for that detail, guys.

Travis D. Stice -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

Thank you, Charles.

Operator

Our next question comes from the line of Leo Mariani of KeyBanc. Your line is open.

Leo Paul Mariani -- KeyBanc Capital Markets -- Analyst

Hi, guys. Wondered if you could give a little bit more color around those four, I guess stellar wells that you guys recently drilled, I guess and completed there on the Energen acreage. I guess, for those prior wells done by the Energen team with sort of their own drilling and completion methods or whether these done by FANG with the your techniques?

Travis D. Stice -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

Leo, yes, the wells were already drilled by Energen. And again the great thing about the combination is that we had very similar philosophies and where we -- for the land and drill the wells so, they landed in very similar spots to where we would have chose as well, but the actual completion happened right at in a little after the close. So again, we had already merged some of the operation groups by that time, but now again a collaborative effort.

Leo Paul Mariani -- KeyBanc Capital Markets -- Analyst

Okay. That's helpful. As I was just trying to get a sense of whether or not you guys are maybe doing things a bit different on the completion side and what Energen was doing, you clearly laid out some material cost reductions versus Energen. Just trying to get a sense of whether or not the actual completion designs or methodologies also might be a little different in leading to some better results?

Travis D. Stice -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

No. I think the beauty of the trade is that, we're so confident in the actual well results we're seeing on the Energen acreage. The benefit that we had is on the cost side, so, two organizations that saw eye-to-eye on design and completion size and landing points. But on a cost perspective, combined that's where the real synergies rest.

Leo Paul Mariani -- KeyBanc Capital Markets -- Analyst

Okay. That makes sense. And I guess just looking at your fourth quarter production, it seemed very strong for sure, particularly given the fact that you guys are kind of putting these two companies together in the fourth quarter, certainly seems like it stepped up nice momentum into 2019. I was wondering if you could kind of talk a little bit to kind of production cadence during the year. Is the growth kind of more mid-year weighted or back-half weighted in '19 or is it pretty ratable throughout the year?

Travis D. Stice -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

Yeah, Leo. I'll tackle the Q4 performance, because I think there are a few important points there. Our base business full year production of 121.4 MBOE per day was significantly above the guidance we presented in Q3. So the base business outperformed by 8,000 to 10,000 barrels a day in Q4 without giving effect to the Energen trade. So I think that was very important.

Looking ahead to 2019, we gave a number that the combined business was doing about 250,000 barrels a day in December, once we combine the two companies together. We expect to grow basically ratably through the year. I think D&C CapEx is going to be pretty consistent through the year with some acceleration toward the back half, but we kind of see 20% or so exit-to-exit as being a very important number for us.

Leo Paul Mariani -- KeyBanc Capital Markets -- Analyst

Okay. That's very helpful. And I guess just lastly on cash G&A, I guess your guidance for this year is basically below $1 per BOE, couldn't help to notice your fourth quarter number was around $0.67 per BOE, which I guess is quite a bit below. So, should we be thinking kind of closer to that type of number or is it maybe a little bit upward pressure early in the year if you guys have any severance payments made like that?

Travis D. Stice -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

All right. I think through the year, you can pick a number between that $0.67 and $1 and be in good shape. We just like to say, under $1 because it's such an industry-leading number.

Leo Paul Mariani -- KeyBanc Capital Markets -- Analyst

Okay. Thanks, guys.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from the line of Michael Hall with Heikkinen Energy Advisors. Your line is open.

Michael Anthony Hall -- Heikkinen Energy Advisors -- Analyst

Thanks. Appreciate the time. A lot of mine have been addressed. One thing I guess (inaudible) on the kind of people side of the equation. How are you all situated with people now at this point? Obviously you had a pretty substantial step-up in activity here as you combine the two companies. Are you all set on new hires? How much of the Energen staff came over and just kind of where you are on that front?

Michael L. Hollis -- President and Chief Operating Officer

Yeah, Michael. The operations organization for Energen sat in here in Midland and so I think there is a 250 there that just rolled right into our mix and then we've got some employees that are in Birmingham that are transition employees. So there is still taking care some of the base functions in Birmingham as we wind that office close. And then we were fortunate enough to get some folks to move from Birmingham both into Oklahoma City offices and back here to Midland as well too. So, we are continuing to look to increase headcount as (inaudible) pointed out. We've got industry leading G&A, but we're going to continue to add the best athletes in the draft that we can find on a -- every quarter.

Michael Anthony Hall -- Heikkinen Energy Advisors -- Analyst

All right (inaudible) to join the team. The other I have is just kind of the split of the rigs to the extent you guys can provide any more granularity on, particularly in the Midland Basin side, just curious like how we should think about, yeah, just kind of where in the each of these kind of sub operating areas? How much in each of those areas you have -- from a rig count perspective?

Travis D. Stice -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

Yeah. I'd define the Midland Basin and to Northern Midland Basin and then Glasscock County and we're probably going to run about a rig and a half in Glasscock County that gets you to 30 to 35 wells for the year and the rest in Midland Basin rigs, 8.5 or so will be in the Northern Basin area. And Midland Basin will be about 55% of our total wells for the year. The Delaware 45% of total wells for the year, I'd say, rig count wise 10 to 11 rigs with four of those in the Reeves County Energen block and the rest split between our ReWard and Pecos positions.

Michael Anthony Hall -- Heikkinen Energy Advisors -- Analyst

Okay. That's super helpful. If I may just one last on the grow and prune strategy, where would you say you have the best opportunity for the growth side of that equation as it relates to these trades and swaps? Which of these little sub areas do you think are the most likely to change over the course of the next year or look more blocky I guess?

Travis D. Stice -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

Yeah, I mean, I think, you look at what we did in Spanish Trail North with a series of trades and now we're actively blocking that up. I think you still have some work to do around our ReWard position and certainly in the (inaudible) Northern Delaware Basin Energen position -- legacy Energen position there is a lot of non-operated properties around there that we prefer to operate given our cost structure, and I think we're going to be actively working to block that area up and trade non-opposition for non-operated position.

Michael Anthony Hall -- Heikkinen Energy Advisors -- Analyst

All right. Thanks very much. Congrats on a solid quarter.

Travis D. Stice -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

Thanks, Michael.

Operator

(Operator Instructions) Our next question comes from the line of Eli Kantor with IFS Securities. Your line is open.

Eli Jacob Rassow-Kantor -- IFS Securities -- Analyst

Hi. Good morning, guys.

Travis D. Stice -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

Good morning.

Eli Jacob Rassow-Kantor -- IFS Securities -- Analyst

I couldn't help notice the big increase in your other locations within the inventory breakdown you gave on Slide 14. Can you give some additional detail on what percent of those locations are operated versus non-op? What intervals comprise this other category? How the locations are split across those various intervals and our development of the other locations will compete for capital relative to locations you break out the Wolfcamp, Spraberry and Bone Spring?

Travis D. Stice -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

Yeah. I'll take that one. Energen kept more Wolfcamp C and Wolfcamp B inventory than Diamondback did in the Midland Basin and had more exposure to it than we did for that. So, that makes up a good amount of the other category. Non-op is about 400 net non-op locations as well. And that comprises a good piece. Now on the Delaware side, Energen had some Avalon and Brushy Canyon locations where we don't have that in the Southern Delaware Basin.

Eli Jacob Rassow-Kantor -- IFS Securities -- Analyst

And then in terms of this upcoming monetization of Rattler, can you talk about the various considerations being made in deciding what percent of the equity you ultimately sell?

Travis D. Stice -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

Yeah. We can't talk about that Eli. It's on file with the SEC and you're going to look at the S1 filing online.

Eli Jacob Rassow-Kantor -- IFS Securities -- Analyst

Fair enough. Thanks.

Operator

I'm not showing any further questions at this time, I would now like to turn the call back over to Travis Stice, CEO for closing remarks.

Travis D. Stice -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

Thanks again to everyone participating in today's call. If you got any questions, please contact us using the information provided.

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, that concludes today's conference. Thank you for participating. You may now disconnect. Everyone have a wonderful day.

Duration: 54 minutes

Call participants:

Adam Lawlis -- Director Of Investor Relations

Travis D. Stice -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

Michael L. Hollis -- President and Chief Operating Officer

Teresa L. Dick -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

John C. Nelson -- Goldman Sachs Group Inc. -- Analyst

Derrick Lee Whitfield -- Stifel, Nicolaus & Company -- Analyst

Neal David Dingmann -- SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Inc. -- Analyst

Gail Amanda Nicholson Dodds -- Stephens -- Analyst

Asit Kumar Sen -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

Ryan Todd -- Simmons Energy -- Analyst

Timothy A. Rezvan -- Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. -- Analyst

Michael Dugan Kelly -- Seaport Global Securities -- Analyst

Andrew Elliot Venker -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Jeffrey Scott Grampp -- Northland Capital Markets -- Analyst

Jason Andrew Wangler -- Imperial Capital -- Analyst

Charles Arthur Meade -- Johnson Rice & Company -- Analyst

Leo Paul Mariani -- KeyBanc Capital Markets -- Analyst

Michael Anthony Hall -- Heikkinen Energy Advisors -- Analyst

Eli Jacob Rassow-Kantor -- IFS Securities -- Analyst

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