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California Resources Corp (CRC) Q1 2021 Earnings Call Transcript

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CRC earnings call for the period ending March 31, 2021.

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California Resources Corp (CRC 2.26%)
Q1 2021 Earnings Call
May 13, 2021, 11:00 a.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Good morning, and welcome to the California Resources Corporation First Quarter Earnings Conference Call. All participants will be in a listen-only mode. [Operator Instructions] After today's presentation, there will be an opportunity to ask questions. [Operator Instructions]

I would now like to turn the conference over to Joanna Park. Please go ahead.

Joanna Park -- Vice President of Investor Relations & Treasurer

Thank you. I'm Joanna Park, Vice President of Investor Relations and Treasurer. Welcome to California Resources Corporation first quarter conference call. Participating on today's call is Mac McFarland, President and Chief Executive Officer; Francisco Leon, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer; Shawn Kerns, Executive Vice President of Operations and Engineering; Mike Preston, Senior Executive Vice President, CAO and General Counsel; and Jay Bys, Chief Commercial Officer, as well as several other members of the CRC executive team.

I'd like to highlight that today we have provided supplemental slides, which we may refer to during our prepared remarks, which can be found on the Investor Relations section of our website, www.crc.com. We have also provided a reconciliation of non-GAAP financial measures discussed to the most directly comparable GAAP financial measures on our website and in our earnings press release. Today's conference call contains certain projections and other forward-looking statements within the meaning of federal security laws. These statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ from those expressed or implied in these statements. Additional information on factors that could cause results to differ are available in the Company's 10-Q, which will be filed later today. We ask that you review it and the cautionary statement in our earnings press release. A replay will be made available on our website following today's call, and we have allotted an additional time for Q&A at the end of our prepared remarks.

Thanks, and I will now turn the call over to Mac.

Mark A. (Mac) McFarland -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Joanna. And thanks to everyone on the phone for attending today's earnings call.

Jumping to the punch line, the first quarter results delivered $120 million of free cash flow, which set the backdrop for $100 million -- $150 million share repurchase program we are announcing today. Our strong start to the year displayed CRC's ability to execute on our strategy and deliver meaningful cash flow. The Company is trending toward the high end of our free cash flow guidance that we provided during our March 18 Strategy Day, that is $350 million of free cash flow for 2021 and would reflect an 18% free cash flow yield at yesterday's market valuation.

Based on the progress we've made to-date, and because our stock price has not fully participated in the most recent energy sector rebound, we believe that our stock offers a very attractive return. The $150 million share repurchase program provides us the flexibility to make good on our commitment to return capital to our shareholders, while also maintaining a healthy balance sheet with low leverage ratios and significant liquidity. Francisco will detail this later during his remarks.

From an activity standpoint, first quarter results were achieved with just one drilling rig where we drilled 17 wells, 15 of which were brought online during the quarter, and the other two came online during the second quarter. During the quarter, we also completed 40 capital workovers, and performed 570 downhole maintenance jobs bringing back online nearly 3,300 barrels of oil equivalent per day of gross production. In May, we added a second drilling rig and increased our maintenance rig count from 30 to 38. We expect to maintain this level over the next six months to focus on quick payback, high returns, backlog of wells. I'm extremely proud of our employees for maintaining safe and efficient operations and for adapting to and executing our strategy to deliver these strong results. We have one of the lowest safety incident rates in recent history and outstanding environmental performance.

Shifting gears now, there has been a fair amount of discussion regarding the California regulatory environment, highlighted by the recent announcement to ban fracking. Regardless of whether or not such a ban is upheld, CRC will see no material impact because less than 1% of our proved reserves require well stimulation, and our current long-term development plans do not include well stimulation. In fact, CRC's operations do not require high-pressure cyclic steam. We continue to operate according to the strictest environmental regulations in the world. And a carbon intensity of CRC's barrels are much lower than the average imported barrel as California continues to import 70% of its oil needs. Said differently, there will be no impact to CRC, if the fracking ban is upheld.

That being said, we look forward to working with the state on its energy transition plans. In the second half of this year, we are planning to provide additional clarity on several concrete items, directly related to energy transition that will have the potential to benefit California's future success in this area. Our core operations will continue to deliver solid cash flow, while we work on these future steps.

Additionally, CRC is evaluating ways to strengthen our ESG commitment even further. We have multiple sustainability opportunities and are looking to strengthen our approach through a total review of our ESG efforts. The Company is successfully delivering on our current 2030 sustainability goals. And given the significant progress in the areas of water recycling and methane reduction, our future efforts will focus on renewables integration and decarbonization projects. In other words, we are looking to revamp the E or the environmental approach of our ESG strategy to make a bigger impact on the safe decarbonization and energy transition plans through our focus on renewables and CCU -- CCUS without compromising our social and governance commitments. This may include opportunities outside of the Elk Hills CCUS and EOR project, as well as both cell supply and grid supply of renewable energy. We expect to provide further details on this revamped ESG strategy in the second half of the year.

I'll now turn the call over to Francisco, who will provide additional details on our first quarter financial performance and on our borrowing base redetermination. Francisco?

Francisco J. Leon -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Thanks, Mac. Good morning, everyone, and thank you for joining us on this call. As Mac mentioned earlier, CRC continue to successfully execute on our corporate strategy based on strong business financial fundamentals, disciplined capital allocation, a robust free cash flow generation.

As you can see on Slide 4 of our earnings presentation slides, we have outlined several key quarterly highlights. Our strong performance during the quarter contributed to an adjusted EBITDAX of $189 million, and adjusted net income of $102 million or $1.22 per diluted share. During the first quarter, we generated $120 million of free cash flow, showcasing our industry-leading free cash flow generation capability.

We reported net quarterly production of 99,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, and 60,000 barrels of oil per day. Net oil production was lower by 3,000 barrels a day on a quarter-over-quarter basis, primarily due to PSC adjustments, associated with higher oil prices. On a gross basis, oil production was essentially flat quarter-over-quarter, while operating just one drilling rig in the San Joaquin Basin. A true testament to the quality of our assets are low decline rate, low capital intensity, and the strong safety culture of our employees.

As Mac highlighted, during the first quarter, we took significant actions to further simplify and improve our capital structure. In January 2021, we issued $600 million of 7.125% senior unsecured notes due in 2026. With the proceeds of this deal, we successfully repaid in full, our second lien term loan, all outstanding senior Elk Hills Power secured notes, and used the remainder to repay substantially all of our outstanding borrowings under our revolving credit facility.

Further, earlier this month and supported by our strong financial and operational performance, we completed our borrowing base redetermination, which resulted in an increase of our borrowing base to $1.2 billion, up from $1.167 billion previously. Additionally, we entered into the first amendment to our revolving credit facility that provides CRC with additional strategic flexibility regarding shareholder initiatives, and future hedging levels. More specifically, the amendment loosens the restricted payment condition and increases our available capacity to return capital to our shareholders.

With these actions, coupled with our industry-leading free cash flow generation capability, CRC exited the quarter with a single unsecured debt tranche and undrawn RBL and total liquidity of $545 million, which included $102 million of net cash generated during the quarter for a total of $130 million of cash on our balance sheet. This quarterly performance additionally underscores the Company's strong focus on free cash flow generation, our assets' capacity to support our strategy, and our employees' ability to safely, efficiently and reliably produce much needed energy for California.

As stated during our Strategy Day, we anticipate our 2021 investment plan to generate between $250 million and $350 million of free cash flow in a $60 per barrel Brent environment, highlighting the efficiency of our capital deployment and industry-leading low decline rates. Given our current performance, we are reaffirming guidance and expect to trend toward the high end of our free cash flow range, implying a free cash flow yield in the high teens, while assuming our current market capitalization. This yield, coupled with our estimated 2021 net leverage ratio of about 0.5 turn, positions CRC with a strong foundation to deliver sustainable shareholder returns.

As Mac mentioned, and as a result of our strong -- of the strong first quarter and steps taken to improve our cost and capital structures, we are now in a position to announce a $150 million share repurchase program effective in the second quarter of 2021. Marking this first important step toward returning cash to shareholders, and in just seven months after our emergence. Further, as Slide 6 indicates, the value of our year-end 2020 SEC proved reserves at $60 Brent, gives over $5.7 billion, which is more than double our current enterprise value. Our high concentration of value and our low decline proved developed category, and large inventory of high-return assets in our core fields, provide confidence in both the intrinsic value of our stock and the free cash flow deliverability. This support the reasoning behind our share repurchase program. If I also expand further on peers comparable valuation as compared to our guided 2021 numbers, we're certainly trading below our sector average of enterprise value over 2021 EBITDA multiple of around 5 times.

Continuing on, as we make progress on the goals of our new strategic direction discussed earlier in the year, CRC made several organizational changes by realigning the Company's corporate and operational functions. As a result, our first quarter 2021 G&A cost averaged $5.36 per BOE, which is $0.87 below the previous quarter, primarily due to our ongoing cost saving efforts and workforce reductions. For the remainder of the year, we expect CRC's G&A performance to further improve in reaching approximately $5 per BOE run rate, while trending toward the low end of the previously issued guidance of $180 million to $190 million per year.

Further, operating costs for the first quarter of 2021 were $164 million, or $18.33 per BOE, which is $0.91 higher than the prior -- the previous quarter, as the Company invested in downhole maintenance and workovers of existing wells, incrementally raising opex.

I would like to provide a bit more clarity on this on slide. On Slide 16 of our earnings deck, you can find additional color of CRC's opportunity set with respect to our high impact maintenance well back bore. CRC is be able to opportunistically reenter these existing well bores and bring back incremental barrels through well maintenance. Through rapid technical intensification and commercial analysis, well remediation work is prioritized to bring the highest value wells back online first, increasing uptime and production through high impact well work and opex maintenance at the fraction of the cost of a new well. This capital shift will allow for a return of PDP production barrels with almost no reservoir risk and short paybacks, demonstrating another string to our assets.

For the remainder of the year, we anticipate opex to modestly increase. However, since we view opex dollars and capital investment dollars, almost interchangeably. Capital investment will be reduced similarly, and our ability to achieve our free cash flow targets will be strengthened. Said simply, this is a huge differentiator for CRC, where a conventional player with a low decline asset base that competes -- that compares favorably versus our CL [Phonetic] counterparts. For the remainder of the year, we expect to continue demonstrating the resilience and quality of CRC's low decline and low risk core assets, continuous improvement of our cost structure and disciplined capital allocation. The combination of all of this is what gives us confidence that we will trend toward the high end of our 2021 free cash flow guidance, and our ability to return cash by initiating the $150 million share repurchase program.

Finally, please note that we have provided detail analysis of our quarterly financial and operational results and our 2021 guidance in the attachments to our earnings release.

Thanks. And I'll now turn the call back over to Mac, who'll discuss the outlook for the rest of 2021.

Mark A. (Mac) McFarland -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Francisco. To conclude, and during the quarter, we have a robust $545 million of liquidity position, and one of the lowest leverage metrics in the sector. We began to deliver tangible results on our strategy, almost $200 million in adjusted EBITDAX and a $120 million of free cash flow during the quarter. We initiated the share purchase program that we discussed today, commencing a $150 million program. A very strong quarter in my view, and is something that we are proud of at CRC.

As we look at -- look ahead, CRC has largely completed our strategic repositioning, but we continue to look for additional ways to improve. We intend to provide insights on our business as we transition forward and demonstrate healthy progress on our targets. With our corporate strategy in place, we are on track to deliver the strong cash flows Francisco discussed, and toward the high end of our guidance range. Our strategy of strong cost control, efficient operations and responsible portfolio management are set to drive free cash flow. As I mentioned previously, we're looking to expand and strengthen our ESG strategy to focus our approach on decarbonization and energy transition in California, but more on that in the second half of the year.

Again, thank you for your interest in CRC, and for joining us on this call today. At this point, we will now open the line for any questions.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

Thank you. We will now begin the question-and-answer session. [Operator Instructions] And the first question will be from Leo Mariani with KeyBanc. Please go ahead.

Leo Mariani -- KeyBanc -- Analyst

Hey, guys. Wanted to touch base real quickly here on the return of capital plan. Obviously, you guys chose to go with the buyback. I think the stock is reacting favorably to that here today. But you also talked about other potential return of capital strategies that may come later in the year. How do you guys kind of think internally about those different options and kind of weigh them against each other. Clearly, it looks like the buyback, one in the near term, but it sounds like you might be looking at supplementing this with maybe some kind of dividend later on?

Mark A. (Mac) McFarland -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. Good morning, Leo. It's Mac. How are you?

Leo Mariani -- KeyBanc -- Analyst

Good.

Mark A. (Mac) McFarland -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. Look, the share repurchase program, we felt was in the best interest of the deployment of capital return to shareholders at this point in time, given where the stock is not necessarily participated as we mentioned with the rebound in the sector. And so we thought that's the best first step, and that's the first step we're taking. As we go through the remainder of the year, we'll continue to evaluate all different forms of ability to return cash to shareholders, as well as potentially looking at little, I'll say, potential add-ons or recycling the capital into the business. But we'll make those decisions as we progress through the second quarter. Anything you want to add, Francisco?

Francisco J. Leon -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

No. I mean, I think we had a good quarter, building cash, ready to announce the first step and we'll circle back when we have anything else to announce.

Leo Mariani -- KeyBanc -- Analyst

Okay, great. And I guess, I just wanted to touch base with you guys on the regulatory environment. Obviously, you guys, in your prepared comments, discussed the potential frac ban in California. But maybe just aside from that, which sounds like it would be a very limited impact on most people's businesses in California so far. You guys aware of any other regulatory developments that may be percolating in the State? I know there was a Senate bill that was -- could have been somewhat deleterious that would shut down, didn't make it out of committee recently. But are guys expecting any other energy bills that may come up in the legislative sessions this year? And just any thoughts you might have on the potential for 2,500 foot setbacks that -- could that eventually emerge in California, but did emerge. Do you guys have a rough idea of the impact on your business?

Mark A. (Mac) McFarland -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. Leo, so we discussed this previously. Obviously, there were -- there are two bills in the Senate, SB-467, SB-419. 467, which had a -- in its early stages had a fairly significant impact on the E&P space. Did not make it out of committee on vote. It was being reconstituted and I think it still hasn't even made it subcommittee. And then 419, obviously, is the labor bill and how it impacts upstream E&P as it did to refinery, not that particular bill, but as refineries were impacted with using union labor. 419, we don't think will have an impact on our projections, given that we already have a agreement to use trade on surface operations, or for a lot of our surface facilities types operations. But all right, let me ask Mike Preston, the General Counsel, to add on to that.

Michael L. Preston -- Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel

Thanks, Mac. Yeah, I would agree. Those were the two primary bills that we've been watching this year. Setbacks -- setback bills have been introduced over the last two years and have an advanced. And there may be some rule-making relating the setback that proceeds in the future. We're obviously keeping track of that. As you may be aware, the lion's share of our operations are in Kern County and relatively remote locations. But in any event, we're fully engaged with the rest of industry in analyzing that legislation and keeping an eye on it. We don't anticipate anything in the near term that will significantly impact us.

Leo Mariani -- KeyBanc -- Analyst

Okay. Thanks, guys.

Michael L. Preston -- Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel

Thanks, Leo.

Mark A. (Mac) McFarland -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Leo.

Operator

The next question will be from Noel Parks with Tuohy Brothers. Please go ahead.

Noel Parks -- Tuohy Brothers -- Analyst

Good morning.

Mark A. (Mac) McFarland -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Hey, good morning, Noel.

Francisco J. Leon -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Good morning.

Noel Parks -- Tuohy Brothers -- Analyst

Just a couple of things. You were talking a bit about the credit line and just some of the restricted payment conditions there, not a topic that usually comes up a lot, but I guess since it's a new revolver and anything like that. Could you just talk a little bit more about the implications for there is -- it means you're returning cash to shareholders with the -- with those conditions?

Mark A. (Mac) McFarland -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Sure, Noel. It's Mac. Just real quick. Yeah, it's not often you get to discuss the arcane covenants inside of our capital structure. But when we exited from bankruptcy, we had some cleanup work to do. That's why we had the high yield notes that came out, and then this RBL amendment that it just trying to put everything regular way. As we came out of bankruptcy, it was optimized to get out of bankruptcy, but not necessarily optimized in what I consider regular way capital structure. And so that's what Francisco and the team have been working on. But I'll let Francisco give you the finer points of the ERP [Phonetic].

Francisco J. Leon -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yes. Absolutely. So we want to make the RBL more -- much more of a standard form. So the biggest change is hard to distributable free cash flow going to a last 12 month calculation, which is very typical and that allows us to really reflect the cash that we're building currently into the business and build out over time to think about distribution of capital for the shareholders, that's one. The second one is around the ability to have more flexibility on our hedging. So we looked at both the maximum and minimums of the hedging capacity, raising the ceiling on the maximum hedging that we could choose to do. We went up to 85% in -- but also lowering the minimum hedging capacity to 33% of PDP volume subject to a leverage ratio. So ultimately, we're bringing a lot of flexibility into our RBL that we didn't have upon emergence in going through more of our regular way as Mac said, way of distributing cash to shareholders.

Noel Parks -- Tuohy Brothers -- Analyst

Great. Thanks for the clarification. And in terms of the different decarbonization alternative energy projects that you're looking at, just curious if you had an investment hurdle in mind for what you think would be worthy of capital? And just wondering what other considerations are in play as you look at the various projects that you might take on?

Mark A. (Mac) McFarland -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, Noel. It's Mac. As I outlined at a fairly high level because we're still doing the detailed work and that's why we said more on this in the second half. We're looking at a number of things including in addition to the Elk Hills project continuing to advance the CCUS project there, and obviously we're completing the FEED study there. And that will be out in September of this year, the completed study. We were also looking at using a number of our depleted fields for CCS, as well as, as I mentioned cell supply through renewables, but primarily solar in this case, as well as providing grid supply using some of our surface acreage using solar on those acres. And when I look at those things, we have not necessarily fully developed the entire, I'll call it, project plan, including how we're going to look at the financing. But we would also look for alternative financing structures to bring in our potential partners because the renewable space, for example, has a different cost of capital than we do as an oil and gas companies that we'd be looking for, bringing in the right type of capital structure, but leveraging our assets in order to be a part of that energy transition. So a lot there. Probably not specifically answering your question, but we would not enter into a -- on a economic transaction from our perspective, and that's why we would look at alternative sources of capital, both equity and debt to fund some of these activities.

Noel Parks -- Tuohy Brothers -- Analyst

Thanks. So that's actually helpful. That's what I was looking for. Thanks a lot.

Mark A. (Mac) McFarland -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Okay. Thanks, Noel.

Operator

And the next question is from Ray Deacon with Petro Lotus. Please go ahead.

Ray Deacon -- Petro Lotus -- Analyst

Yeah. Hey, good morning. I had a question about your -- yeah, I had a question about your JV, the dollars that we're going to be spent to exit some of the drilling JVs. What quarter do you think those will hit in?

Francisco J. Leon -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yeah, this is Francisco, Ray. As we outlined in the earnings release, we anticipate one of the JVs would benefit three partners to be reverting sometime this year, late third quarter, early fourth quarter. That's part of the pre-agreed conditions on the contract and it's a natural exit point for them. And there is no residual ownership of any of our wells once they revert.

Ray Deacon -- Petro Lotus -- Analyst

Okay, got it. And I guess just lastly, given that free cash flow, looks like it's at the high end of your prior guidance, do you still feel the $1.5 billion over five years of free cash flow is the right number? Or could it be a number higher than that?

Francisco J. Leon -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yeah. We guided in our Strategy Day to $1.5 billion, assuming the midpoint of our guidance at $60 Brent. We do see things rolling off like BSP and, or hedges improve into next year. But we're not changing guidance at this point. We're staying with the $1.5 billion, but certainly the price environment has continued to strengthen. And we'll see where we end up later in the year. But for now, we're sticking with the $1.5 billion guidance that we've given for five years. Mac?

Mark A. (Mac) McFarland -- President and Chief Executive Officer

No. I think that's right. We see a backlog of opportunity for growth [Phonetic]. Go ahead, Ray.

Ray Deacon -- Petro Lotus -- Analyst

Right. Yeah. And I guess just lastly, if I could, a quick one. I agree that 18% free cash flow yield seems much too high. What if the dividend doesn't resolve that, I guess, what would be your preferred way to get the market to look harder, I guess. at the story?

Francisco J. Leon -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yeah. So today, we announced the share repurchase program, $150 million. We certainly think this is the first move to -- because we see the stock being undervalued on a relative basis to the entire sector. So there is -- the good thing is our -- if you see our free cash flow projections, they are very strong for the year. We will have to make any of that repayments we have -- we're seeing well with our high yield transaction that we did earlier in the year, very low leverage. So we have a lot of opportunities available to us, and we'll continue to assess how the stock performs. And then we will think about what comes next. But right now, we felt this was the right first move on the share repurchase program and we have several other options that could go from eventually paying a dividend to doing -- investing in the business and putting more money into our wells and a number of other options as well. So we feel we have -- we've built out the cash between the contractual aspects of our restrictions. And as we continue to perform, we will look at other ways to return capital to shareholders and move the stock price.

Ray Deacon -- Petro Lotus -- Analyst

Got it. Thank you very much.

Operator

And the next question will come from Jeff Robertson with Water Tower Research. Please go ahead.

Jeff Robertson -- Water Tower Research -- Analyst

Thank you. My question is on the workover activity. As you add -- as you work through the backlog that you have ultimately spending money on workovers will that have a positive impact then on the follow on production costs of -- that will be noticable in the Company. And then secondly, how long would it take to work through the backlog that you referenced that was built up when the Company was dealing with its balance sheet and may be deferring capital, otherwise would have spent -- been spent on this type of projects?

Mark A. (Mac) McFarland -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, Jeff, it's Mac. So the backlog that we had coming out of '21, because we didn't necessarily do the same amount of maintenance last year as we typically would provided us this opportunity. And so the opportunity is really to shift capital dollars into opex dollars, and you will see that in our guidance in the slides. And so we moved $15 million into -- shifted places in the guidance. That allows -- so that does have a -- it brings barrels back, but it also increases our operating expenses on the numerator side of things. And so I'm not sure exactly how to answer your question specifically, but we do get good high return barrels. As far as working through the backlog, we see maintaining that 38 maintenance rigs for the balance of the year and working our way through. And so as we go into 2022, we'll see less opportunity and therefore will shift those dollars back into capex. But I'm looking at Shawn Kerns here of Operations. Shawn, anything to add?

Shawn M. Kerns -- Executive Vice President, Operations and Engineering

No, Mac. You've got that right. And really we'll take care of that this year. We're picking up our maintenance rig activity, working that backlog. And as you mentioned, the incremental operating cost is really just temporary to bring those barrels back on, and then you'll see the benefit going into 2022.

Jeff Robertson -- Water Tower Research -- Analyst

Thanks. I guess I was -- I guess, my -- maybe I didn't word it right. The upfront cost of spending money on workovers, which is obviously reflected in operating costs, but then you get the production benefit. So I guess my question is, does that wash out over time in operating costs, so you kind of go into a steady state where you've got the benefit of production lowering as it may be [Phonetic] in fact on lowering production because you've already spent the upfront money to recomplete a well or some projects.

Shawn M. Kerns -- Executive Vice President, Operations and Engineering

Yeah, Jeff. That's right. It is accretive. So once you get those barrels back online, then it take -- more than takes care of the costs.

Jeff Robertson -- Water Tower Research -- Analyst

Okay, thank you.

Operator

[Operator Instructions] The next question will come from Eric Seeve with GoldenTree. Please go ahead.

Eric Seeve -- GoldenTree -- Analyst

Hi guys, thanks for the call. Great quarter. A couple of quick questions. Your realizations in the quarter were terrific, clearly on the NGL side. Can you provide any color in terms of what investors should expect going forward for the crude side and the NGL side in terms of realization?

Jay Bys -- Chief Commercial Officer

Eric, this is Jay Bys. Touching on the NGLs, over the last year, obviously, it's been a very tumultuous marketplace for NGLs. So where we sit today, compares quite favorably to the same period last year. Do we expect to see continued strength in that area? You've got some inflationary pressures. You've got some disequilibrium, however, in the economic rebound. It's hard to say that there's a kind of appreciation that we've seen over the last 12 months, over the next 12 months.

Eric Seeve -- GoldenTree -- Analyst

Terrific, thank you. And then my other question was, could you maybe give a little bit of color to investors on where you are? You talked already about workovers, but in terms of the new drilling, can you give people a sense of where are you drilling wells today and what kind of returns are you seeing?

Mark A. (Mac) McFarland -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Well, sure. The 17 wells that we drilled in the first quarter, which is now up to 22 has been in the Mount Poso area. And we've been of, what I would say is, on target both in terms of cost, as well as initial IP across the 22 wells. I mean, obviously some above, some below, but beating the type curve on average. And now we're -- we started the second rig in this quarter -- earlier this quarter, and we invested [Phonetic]. And so we're starting to drill there. We are currently evaluating. Our original plan had taking that out to three rigs or four rigs in the second half of the year, which is still the current plan, but we're evaluating whether or not we push some of that out and go with some additional dollars on workovers. Shawn, anything to add on that?

Shawn M. Kerns -- Executive Vice President, Operations and Engineering

Nothing to add, Mac. Just drilling in and around our core areas.

Eric Seeve -- GoldenTree -- Analyst

Terrific.

Mark A. (Mac) McFarland -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Does that answer your question Eric? Yeah.

Eric Seeve -- GoldenTree -- Analyst

Yes.

Mark A. (Mac) McFarland -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Great.

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, this concludes our question-and-answer session. I would like to turn the conference back over to Mac McFarland for any closing remarks.

Mark A. (Mac) McFarland -- President and Chief Executive Officer

I would keep it simple. Thank you for your interest and participation on today's call, and look forward to speaking with everyone at the second quarter earnings call, and the upcoming investor meetings. Take care.

Operator

[Operator Instructions]

Duration: 38 minutes

Call participants:

Joanna Park -- Vice President of Investor Relations & Treasurer

Mark A. (Mac) McFarland -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Francisco J. Leon -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Michael L. Preston -- Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel

Shawn M. Kerns -- Executive Vice President, Operations and Engineering

Jay Bys -- Chief Commercial Officer

Leo Mariani -- KeyBanc -- Analyst

Noel Parks -- Tuohy Brothers -- Analyst

Ray Deacon -- Petro Lotus -- Analyst

Jeff Robertson -- Water Tower Research -- Analyst

Eric Seeve -- GoldenTree -- Analyst

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