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Oasis Petroleum (CHRD -1.18%)
Q4 2020 Earnings Call
Feb 25, 2021, 11:00 a.m. ET


  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:


Good morning. My name is Kate, and I will be your conference operator today. At this time, I'd like to welcome everyone to the fourth-quarter 2020 earnings release and operations update for Oasis Petroleum. [Operator instructions] Please note this event is being recorded.

I would now like to turn the call over to Michael Lou, Oasis Petroleum CFO to begin the conference. Thank you. You may begin your conference.

Michael Lou -- Chief Financial Officer

Thank you, Kate. Good morning, everyone. We are delighted to have you on our call today. I'm joined by Doug Brooks, Taylor Reid, as well as, other members of the team.

Please be advised that our remarks on both Oasis Petroleum and Oasis Midstream Partners, including the answers to your questions, include statements that we believe to be forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act. These forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to be materially different from those currently disclosed in our earnings releases and conference calls. Those risks include among others, matters that we have described in our earnings releases, as well as, in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including our Annual Report on Form 10-K in our quarterly reports on Form 10-Q. We disclaim any obligation to update these forward-looking statements.

During this call, we may make reference to non-GAAP measures and reconciliations to the applicable GAAP measures can be found in our earnings releases and our on our websites. We may also reference our current investor presentation which you can find on our website. With that I'll turn the call over to Doug.

Doug Brooks -- Board Chair and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Michael. Thank you, Kate. Thanks team for being here today. Good morning and thanks to everyone for joining the call today.

I am Douglas Brooks. I'm the board chair and chief executive officer to Oasis, and we do sincerely appreciate your interest today. Before I start, I would like to, first of all, thank our first responders, healthcare providers, all the leaders that work around the world to assist in this COVID pandemic. We really appreciate all the work that's been done and also to our teams and vendors for their work around the same reasons.

Sincerely, thank you. So I know many of you from a nearly 40 years in the industry and today is an exciting day to get to engage with you regarding Oasis. Over the last several months, I've taken the opportunity, along with our team to solicit feedback and listen to the topics and ideas that each of you have suggested, and I will let you know that the board has listened, the team has listened. And I think what we'll talk about today through our major initiatives, we've ensured alignment with shareholders, including their most recently announced, which I consider industry-leading creative performance-based management compensation program and we'll talk about that in a few minutes.

So many of you know me, that I've spent essentially my first 24 years with Marathon Oil Company. Through those years and several other public and private enterprises, I've been exposed to and worked successfully within numerous business and commodity cycles. When I started in mid-November as board chair, we had installed a incredibly talented and engaged series of board members. And as I look at the combination of board members, the team in place, I can tell you that I am fully committed, as well as, a team to the success of this company.

However, as has been announced, we are under an active engaged search for a CEO replacement for me and I'm happy to remain in this position as long as it takes. Quite frankly, from my perspective having seen a number of things in my career, this is truly one of the most interesting and opportunity-filled ventures that I've seen. The deeper that I, the board, and the team get into this, the more excited we are about this incredibly strong organization, with its really can-do, results-oriented, and truly value-generating culture. Through the last couple of months, the team has taken additional steps to further reduce cost structures.

We reorganized to further address, how we will be competitive in this new business environment. We'll talk about those in a few minutes. Many of you may have noticed that we've put in a new slogan which we call a new today -- a new tomorrow today. That is not simply a catchy slogan.

We've taken aggressive action to make business competitive moves today, not wait for tomorrow. Quite simply put, we've put in thoughtfully and issued -- thoughtful initiatives that will bring near-term value to accomplish our goals. For example, I'm pleased to announce that we put in a league -- leading new dividend program based on the sustainability of our enterprise, essentially at thirty seven and a half cents per share, per quarter and at $55, it's effectively a 2.7% yield. The dividend was announced last night and I think that this is a perfect example of how we're bringing the new today in our enterprise.

Given this is our first formal conference call with the new board installed, and me in my position, I want to talk about several initiatives and progress we've made in the Oasis, in the new energy paradigm. First of all, having emerged just in late November, we're benefited under a world -- in a industry-leading debt-to-balance sheet, debt-to-EBITDA, 1.6 leverage and its trending lower. Given the inherent oil prices and uncertain outlook in the future, we view that this pristine balance sheet is critically important and we will vigorously defend it. Second, our new business model is returned its focus.

I call this a two-way capital. This is a return on capital and a return of capital. We will ensure that this return base model continues and that we put in together a capital allocation committee within the board. It oversees a new system of allocation of investment processes.

We've institutionalized that through a rigorous framework, where every capital spend will be tested. We view that this peer-leading reinvestment rate going forward will be supported by continued high returns. On this front, we put together a fixed attainable dividend which demonstrates the value to our shareholders. Beyond that dividend, we continue to generate significant free cash flows which we'll discuss further today.

The ultimate winner in this two-way capital race, will be how people manage capital and return capital to shareholders. I've touched on the board and its highly aligned initiatives with our shareholders, but we think it's extremely important to understand the management incentive program that we put in place. Effectively, 75% of our management incentive program is tied to returns based on relative and absolute returns, strong alignment. We put together a strong ESG focus within the board in the company and we view this as, not window dressing or a fad, it's an obligation to produce clean, low-cost barrels, and also advance the interests of our stakeholders.

We've made key ESG initiatives part of this board process an integrated that within our teams. For example, at the board level, we've taken the nomination and governance committee. We separated those those two terms and we've installed environmental and social in the middle of that. So we call our committee the NESG committee.

It's truly integral to our company's success. We think we already have a track record of good performance and in environmental and social aspects. But we view that we have a better story to tell in the details that we'll disclose later this year. But already, we're in a peer-leading gas capture position in the Williston Basin.

We have a legacy of being heavily involved in our communities and our stakeholders. On the governance side, we have an independent, diverse board, with two of our members being female and one being our lead independent director. We're very proud of this. As I mentioned, we put an incentive program in place that I think is league leading.

Next, I'm happy to report that our asset base is strong. We are capable of holding volumes relatively flat within the foreseeable future, with a very low capital intensity -- capital intensity. The combination of those two items, put our company in a strong position to generate durable, substantial free cash flow. As part of that, we have introduced a capital efficiency program in terms of lowering our costs in the field.

We have worked with third-party vendors to help us look at optimizing our office and field activities, which will result material savings and that we'll talk about over the next couple of weeks. Next, I'd like to report on our view of enterprise risk management. We put in place and codified a system, where I view that as an early warning system, that helps us protect against events and disruptions that'll challenge our base business, our environment, our people, and our communities. So simply said, we take risk as a very important element of our business.

Finally, one of the key feedbacks I've gotten from investors is, the complexity associated with their midstream assets and the ability for us to demonstrate cash flows to you, in terms of the transparency and the ability to understand those. I think you'll see in our investor deck that we -- we'd put on our site last night. There are several items in there that we'll call your attention to later today. I like to talk about the outlook for 2001, very important for us.

As we look to 2001, our outlook will be essentially keeping production flat coming out of 2020 while spending about $225 million to $235 million of [Inaudible] and other capital. And I'll point out at $50 and $2.5 per mcf that generates approximately $155 million five to $175 million of free cash flow, at strip prices, of course. It only improves significantly. Currently, we've declared it to a fixed dividend, as I mentioned at, thirty seven and a half cents per share, per quarter.

And this truly is a spectacular achievement, as we work with our partner banks, our board, which truly validates our long-term value generating business, just one quarter from emergence from our organization. I get a lot of questions about consolidation and where we might fit in that enterprise. And let me point out that, given today's situation, I view that the industry has started consolidation, basically underpinned by one premise. Our industry has evolved from an exploration shale resource to development resource and now we've truly become industrialized.

And as we strive to produce more volumes over lower cost, we're effectively describing Vale -- effectively describing sale -- scale, excuse me. Oasis has a strong footprint already in the Williston Basin and we see a number of opportunities for consolidation. And in fact, it's some of the best opportunities I've seen and I think, there's some of the most welcoming behaviors by third-parties about potential consolidation. However, I will tell you, we will look at acquisitions that are accretive, that are value-based, that are the right size, fit, and shape for our enterprise, and we will continue to protect the balance sheet.

The marriage between scale and two-way capital, as I described before, will describe the winners in the future. So one last comment before I turn it over to Taylor. I hope you've seen that we've been extremely busy at the board level and it's a team level over the last couple of months. This is highlighted by the fact that we have strong assets, a low cost structure, a strong operating team, and alignment with shareholders that provides a sustainable enterprise, focused on strong returns and cash flow, and we look forward to proving that to you over the next quarters.

So let me turn it over to Taylor.

Taylor Reid -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Doug. As you just heard, Oasis is in a strong position to succeed going forward. While we're happy to see improvements overall in the global health outlook, as well as, economic indicators, the environment remains uncertain and we continue to prioritize the health and safety of our employees. The team has done a tremendous job adjusting to the remote work environment brought on by COVID-19, we have executed successfully while maintaining the safety of our employees.

Our field operations have performed exceptionally well with our incident rates at a near-record lows. Needless to say, 2020 was a truly extraordinary time for the world, our industry, and Oasis, specifically. At Oasis, we took aggressive action on multiple fronts to put the company in the best possible position to succeed going forward. On the operations front, we power through an incredibly difficult spring, taken action to curtail volumes, maximize cash flow, and preserve asset value.

We were able to realize pure-leading realizations and control cost, while avoiding permanent damage to the reservoirs. Looking forward, we see many of the cost reductions a structural nature which is positive for our margins and value maximization. As Doug mentioned, we've been working with a consultant to accelerate adoption of best practices across capital, operating cost, and the broader organization. We understand this is a margin business and we'll continue to push costs lower.

If you look at Slide 10 of our presentation, it provides color on our progress here. We are seeing LOE decreased by 5% and G&A decreased by 25%, compared to expectations in 2020. On the capital front, I'm pleased to report we continue to make further strides in reducing well cost in each basin. In the Bakken, our typical wells is now EMP in the mid $6 million range, which is down approximately 17%, from where we were budgeting a year ago.

In the Delaware, we've made even more progress as our current EMP of about $7 million is down about 20% year over year. Service concessions have obviously helped control costs, but various improvements on the engineering and operations side have helped as well. Turning to the 2021 program. We expect to run a rig in the Bakken and for most of the year while completing 23 of 25 gross wells.

And we'll commence drilling again in the Permian in the third quarter while completing six to eight gross wells there this year. The program has been designed for maximum capital efficiency and will deliver significant free cash flow while keeping our average oil volumes around the levels where we exited 2020. In the Bakken, we were focused on a highly capital efficient program in this cornerstone asset. We expect that activity to be focused in some of our strongest areas while basin in Indian Hills.

Then later in the year, we'll begin drilling our South Nesson project, which is adjacent to Wild Basin and is expected to generate similar-type performance to that area. In the Permian, we have a program focused primarily on the Bone Springs and Wolfcamp A. In 2020, we made significant progress along our cost structure in reducing cycle times. Our last two mile lateral wells in the Permian were drilled in less than 25 days and we expect to make further improvements.

Additionally, our subsurface knowledge has grown as well and our 2021 well to be spaced further apart than what we've done in the past, it's placed further away from legacy unbounded wells. We expect 2021 well performance will be among our best yet, with significantly lower cost, which bodes well for returns and free cash flow. As our guidance indicates, first-quarter production is expected to decline a bit from Q4 levels, reflecting reduced activity throughout most of 2020, along with downtime related to bitter cold. As you saw, our fourth-quarter capital was exceptionally light, as we deferred activity to enhance project returns and generate substantial free cash flow.

Q1 volumes should approximate 54,000 to 57,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day. Capital is expected to be limited in the first quarter as well, approximating 20% pof the full-year budget. Completion activity is expected to pick up in the spring, accelerating volumes in the back half of the year. We expect fourth-quarter 2020 oil volumes to be the highest of the year at 62,000 to 65,000 barrels of equivalent per day.

To close, 2020 was a historic year for the world and for Oasis. We've made huge progress in reducing our cost structure, improving efficiencies, and improving returns. The team did a tremendous job in 2020 and let's carry that momentum into 2021. The early impacts this year are impressive and we will challenge ourselves to do even more as the year progresses.

With that, I'll now turn the call over to Michael.

Michael Lou -- Chief Financial Officer

Thanks, Taylor. Impacts from the severe winter weather we experienced last week led us to postpone announcing our order-to-GAAP financials until March 8th, when we expect to file our 10-K. This will keep my financial comments limited to the fourth quarter -- limited on the fourth quarter and 2020, and we'll focus on 2021. The Oasis operations team continues its relentless focus on cost control across the entire organization.

2020 capex was down over 60% from the original budget and 2021 is expected to remain at modest levels with a highly efficient program. Capital, operating, and overhead costs are down significantly from 2019 levels. Additionally, we have identified material savings beyond this progress, which will drive our margins higher and further increase free cash flow generation. I wanted to give a couple quick thoughts on Dakota Access pipeline.

We're obviously monitoring the situation and taking proactive measures to ensure access to market. For the second and third quarters of this year, Oasis has secured approximately one-third of its oil volumes through a combination of board sales and secured space on other pipelines out of the basin. In the event that we're to shut down, we believe in being an orderly shutdown and rail capacity would would ramp up. North Dakota oil production is down approximately 400,000 barrels a day from its peak of around one and a half million barrels a day and the transport market can adapt as needed.

Regarding federal lands and matters related to recent governmental restrictions, we have no material impact there. We exited the year with $260 million drawn on our $575 million revolver. With cash and on hand of $15 million and $6.8 million in LCs, Oasis had an estimated $323 million of liquidity as of year end. At the beginning of the year, we made a commitment to investors across multiple fronts.

You can see our progress on our strategic initiatives on Page 5 of our investor presentation. In the near-term, we're focused on self-help such as driving down costs, running an efficient capital program with a low reinvestment rate, and returning capital to shareholders. As far as our equity performance, we've had a strong run year to date, but we continue to believe that we're significantly undervalued versus peers and dedicated to narrowing that disconnect through any channels available. We will be very proactive on the investor engagement front and continue to increase our sell side coverage universe going forward.

Additionally, liquidity has been improving and should continue to get better and we continue to build -- as we continue to build upon the momentum that we've seen so far this year. Additionally, we're committed to improving the transparency of our business and specifically, getting recognition for our differential and valuable midstream assets. We prioritize that in the near-term. In the meantime, we've provided guidance in our press release and on Page 23 of our investor presentation, which shows the sources and uses of Oasis cash flow and the EMP business and the midstream business.

It's been a lot of hard work, but we are really uniquely positioned and offer a compelling opportunity for investors. Our efficient asset base supports a low reinvestment rate and strong return of capital to shareholders. Our free cash flow yield is simply the best in the peer group and I would argue our ability to maintain this level of free cash flow is very underappreciated. These advantages underpin a best-in-class balance sheet which we can maintain while distributing a significant amount of capital.

As Doug mentioned, Oasis is proud to have instituted its first quarterly dividend at thirty seven and a half cents per share. We took proactive steps to work with our bank group to allow for earlier-than-expected shareholder distributions and that was important for us to provide to our shareholders. We wanted to set our initial fixed dividend at a level that was sustainable even at very low prices. I should note that at $50 oil based on current guidance, we obviously have well in excess of $100 million of additional free cash flow on top of the dividend.

We will be thoughtful about the best use of this additional cash going forward. To sum things up, the environment is improving but remains volatile and Oasis continues to work diligently to aggressively reduce our cost structure, improve returns, and return cash to our shareholders. With that, I'll turn the call over to Kate for questions.

Questions & Answers:


[Operator instructions] Our first question comes from Derek Whitfield of Stifel. Please go ahead.

Derek Whitfield -- Stifel Financial Corp -- Analyst

Good morning all and great update.

Doug Brooks -- Board Chair and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Derek Whitfield -- Stifel Financial Corp -- Analyst

Perhaps, for for Michael or Douglas, beginning with your final comments on free cash flow. With your returns focused business model, how are you currently thinking about the allocation of incremental free cash flow, above and beyond the fixed dividend?

Doug Brooks -- Board Chair and Chief Executive Officer

Let me start and then I may turn it back over to Michael. But -- so as the board was installed just last fall, we've looked at all of those options. We really felt that to put in place a fixed dividend that had a material return was Step 1. We do see, as pointed out, we have material additional free cash flows.

Those can come in the form of share repurchases, the installment of, perhaps, a variable dividend. But I can tell you that the board is looking at all those options. And I think, as we continue to run the business model through the near-term, there'll be more visibility on that. But thank you for noticing, I think it's an attribute that's unique to us, compared to peers.

Derek Whitfield -- Stifel Financial Corp -- Analyst

And as my follow-up, you provided a 2022 outlay, noting flat to slightly higher volumes and similar capex. Those metrics are materially better than what was offered in your cleansing materials. Can you comment on where you're seeing the greatest gains in capital efficiency and or asset productivity?

Taylor Reid -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. So I'll start out Derek. You know, one of the things is, we put this capital allocation committee together to really focus on investment and returns. And as we -- as we looked at the asset base and inventory, we've made some -- some big strides in terms of continuing to maximize the capital efficiency.

So a combination of driving cost down and then really, spacing our wells widely, so that we're going to get maximum returns and inventory slides, I think on here, a good one to look at. You look on Page 13 and in 14, and then just in the Bakken alone, you see we've got a 10-year run rate -- runway of these highly capital efficient projects that you only work between 30 and 45 WTI, a 15% return and that's loaded. And in the majority of those are below the $40 marker. So that's a big piece of it relative to I think, what was probably a bit conservative for -- you see -- previously in the cleansing materials.

Derek Whitfield -- Stifel Financial Corp -- Analyst

Great update. Well done guys.

Doug Brooks -- Board Chair and Chief Executive Officer

Derek, I would point out that the term loaded we use here, Derek, is loaded with G&A, and I think, am I correct here, Taylor, that we loaded 250 barrel?

Taylor Reid -- President and Chief Executive Officer


Doug Brooks -- Board Chair and Chief Executive Officer

And I think, we're showing on one of our slides that that's far above our current run rate, so there's additional margin in that.

Derek Whitfield -- Stifel Financial Corp -- Analyst

Thanks, Doug. Great update guys.

Taylor Reid -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Derek.


Hello, Philip. Is your phone on mute? We're not able to hear you.

Unknown speaker

Hello, can you hear me now?


Yeah, we can. Thank you.

Unknown speaker

OK. Sorry about that. I didn't -- I didn't hear my name called. Thanks, guys.

Just congrats on the dividend announcement and working with the banks. Just to allow that to happen earlier than expected. I guess, just a follow-up on the topic of, what to do with additional free cash flow. Obviously, it's still early, but is your sense that the board would rather steadily grow that base dividend over time? Or do you think there's really a serious appetite, just to maybe, sort of keep that fixed dividend constant and maybe move more toward a more of a fixed plus variable dividend policy, like, we're starting to see from some of the larger names in the space?

Doug Brooks -- Board Chair and Chief Executive Officer

Well, let me, let me add a third element in that, Philip. So I'd direct you to, I think, Slide 11 in the deck. A couple of things, as you allocate capital not only just opportunities in field, but allocating capital back to investors. We've talked about the several there.

You know, I point out on Slide 11 that, I think, we're trading at a very compelling valuation. And I'm not seeing that over signaling or under signaling anything, but I think, share repurchases are value accretive today for us. I think the option to slowly increase the dividend as you suggested, as it being fixed is an option. And then certainly, I think, there's a component of the variable option on dividends because of the nature of our business.

We have a revenue stream that could increase significantly with commodity prices and we want to retain that option as that develops. And so, Michael, anything you'd further like to amplify, but I'd say, essentially, Philip, we're looking at those options to be decided.

Unknown speaker

OK. Are there any noticeable drawbacks or flaws in a variable dividend structure that would maybe prevent you guys from moving in that direction?

Michael Lou -- Chief Financial Officer

So, Philip, just thinking through that. You know, we were able to get an amendment with our banks to be able to provide this fixed dividend for the next couple of quarters. We do have a limiter in our bank agreement for substantially more than that before 930, but after that, it's open to free cash flow. So we do have a little bit of time to think about, how we want to best return capital to our shareholders.

And as Doug mentioned, we'll look at a number of things. The great thing for us is, that we've got an incredible amount of free cash flow generation this year. We think that only continues to progress as oil prices are -- have been strong. We think that will potentially continue to grow.

We think that free cash flow yield is highly durable. That allows us to do a number of different things and we'll look forward to kind of the best way to return to shareholders.

Unknown speaker

No, I'm good, Michael. Thank you.

Michael Lou -- Chief Financial Officer

Thank you, Philip.


This concludes our question-and-answer session. I would like to turn the conference back over to Doug Brooks for closing remarks.

Doug Brooks -- Board Chair and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Kate, and thanks for all the participation today. So, look, you heard me emphasize that the underlying strength of Oasis are the board, our leadership team, our oasis team, our member banks, our investors, our communities, and our stakeholders, and it is up to us to unlock that real value of these assets. The board has been strongly engaged and we are very eager to deliver for these -- on these results. You will see that we will continue to engage in the energy transition currently under way.

And as we've demonstrated today, we think we found our place in that transition because we need to. Energy suppliers today facilitate medicines, comfort products, food, transportation, clothing, and so many other things that benefit the people of our world. We're uniquely positioned with the best-in-class balance sheet, a quality and sustainable long-lived asset base, and a new rigorous capital discipline, and those will translate into long-term value creation for all of us. We look forward to delivering on those promises.

So with that, I again, thank you for all your time and and diligence, and patience with us over the last couple of months. And that will conclude our call.


[Operator signoff]

Duration: 34 minutes

Call participants:

Michael Lou -- Chief Financial Officer

Doug Brooks -- Board Chair and Chief Executive Officer

Taylor Reid -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Derek Whitfield -- Stifel Financial Corp -- Analyst

Unknown speaker

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