Pioneer Natural Resources' (NYSE:PXD) management team earlier this month spent nearly 75 minutes discussing its second-quarter results with analysts and investors. The company believes it is sitting on more than 10 billion barrels of recoverable oil and gas in the Permian Basin. Here's what management wants investors to know about its plans to create value from that massive resource.
No. 1: The water issue is slowly drying up
One reason for Pioneer Natural Resources' large resource base is that horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing are now being used in the Permian Basin. While the shift has the potential to unlock billions of barrels of oil, it is also creating logistical issues that need to be addressed. One top issue is securing the water needed to frack future wells, as there just isn't enough fresh water in Texas.
This quarter, the company announced that it had signed an agreement with two cities in Texas that will provide it with up to 360,000 barrels a day of effluent water -- water that has been treated by a sewage treatment plant. The addition of this water will go a long way toward securing the up to 1 million barrels of water per day the company will need as it ramps up drilling over the next decade. Because of this deal, "water has gone from a high concern two or three years ago to a very low concern for us" CEO Scott Sheffield said during the conference call.
No. 2: The Eagle Ford might be the next asset sale
Pioneer has started to focus nearly all of its efforts to develop the massive oil resource in the Permian Basin. This has involved selling most of its other assets, which has some speculating that the company's Eagle Ford shale land might be next.
In addressing this speculation, Sheffield said:
I want to make a comment in regard to the media comments on our Eagle Ford assets. Our Eagle Ford assets have been rumored to be up for sale. I've always said in the past, all of our assets are always up for sale at the right price. The company has a policy not to comment on any rumors in the marketplace.
While it's not an outright admission that the assets are on the market, it suggests the company could part with its position for the right price.
No. 3: 2014 is a transition year
Given these asset sales and the switch from vertical to horizontal development, Pioneer Natural Resources is still a company in transition. Chief Operating Officer Timothy Dove noted this on the call:
2014 is a transition year, of course, for us. Last year was a year in which we were in the gathering of the resources. Next year, we're pretty much essentially in full development mode. So we're in that transition this year and it's going exceedingly well.
Investors need to realize that Pioneer Natural Resources is still in the very early innings of horizontal development in the Permian Basin. It has been an early leader in moving to horizontal drilling, and that leadership is yielding strong results already. Those should only improve as the company begins its 10-year development plan.
No. 4: Condensate exports are moving out
Pioneer has also been an early leader in advocating that the United States end its 40-year ban on oil exports. The reason for this is noted on the following slide, which shows that production of condensate and light oil has surged due to the shale boom.
To that end, Pioneer and Enterprise Products Partners (NYSE:EPD) were the first two companies to receive permission to export condensate, which is a minimally refined ultra-light oil. As those exports begin to flow, Sheffield said he sees more on the way, as "there is tremendous international interest primarily in Asia to pick up this condensate."
No. 5: Countdown to the end of the oil export ban
Condensate, however, is only the beginning of oil exports, according to Sheffield. He expressed confidence that the ban on exporting oil will end in the near future.
We are making progress on the education process, and most people see it very beneficial. What's happening with the Ukrainian situation and the Iranian situation has been very helpful in regard to providing both LNG and oil to our neighbors in both Asia and Europe. And so I'm optimistic [that the oil export ban will be lifted] -- between now and the next administration '17, no later than '17.
To sum up, Pioneer Natural Resources' management team wants investors to know that it is making progress in key areas. It's securing the water needed to develop its massive resources base, and the company is open to completely focusing its future on the Permian Basin. Furthermore, it's making progress in securing better prices for commodities now that it is shipping out condensation and believes its efforts will eventually lead to oil being exported from the U.S. before President Barack Obama leaves office.