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Executives

Matt Quantz - Manager of IR

Charles Goodson - Chairman, CEO and President

Todd Zehnder - COO

Bond Clement - CFO

Analysts

Will Green - Stephens Inc

Ron Mills - Johnson Rice

Tim Rezvan - Sterne Agee

Richard Tullis - Capital One South

PetroQuest Energy, Inc. (PQ) Q1 2013 Earnings Call May 7, 2013 9:30 AM ET

Operator

Good morning, and welcome to the PetroQuest First Quarter Earnings 2013 Conference Call. All participants will be in a listen-only mode. (Operator Instructions) Please note this event is being recorded. I would now like to turn the conference over to Matt Quantz, Manager of Investor Relations. Please go ahead.

Matt Quantz

Thank you. Good morning, everyone. We would like to welcome you to our first quarter conference call and webcast. Participating with me today on the call are Charles Goodson, Chairman, CEO and President; Todd Zehnder, COO; and Bond Clement, CFO.

As you’ve come to expect, we would like to make our Safe Harbor statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Statements made today regarding PetroQuest business, which are not historical facts are forward-looking statements that involve risk and uncertainties. For a discussion of such risks and uncertainties which could cause actual results to differ from those contained in these forward-looking statements, see Risk Factors in our annual and quarterly SEC filings, and in the forward-looking statements in our press release. We assume no obligation to update our forward-looking statements. Please also note that on today’s call, we will be referring to non-GAAP financial measures, including discretionary cash flow. Historical non-GAAP financial measures are reconciled to the most directly comparable GAAP measures in our press release included in our Form 8-K filed with the SEC today.

With that, Charlie will get us started with an overview of the quarter.

Charles Goodson

Good morning. During the first quarter, we produced 8.3 Bcfe or approximately 92 million cubic feet of gas equivalent per day. The 92 million cubic feet equivalent per day was comprised of approximately 72 million cubic feet of gas, 1400 barrels of oil and 2000 barrels of NGLs. Our first quarter 2013 average daily natural gas liquids production increased 79% over the comparable 2012 period and was the sixth consecutive quarter of total company production growth.

Revenues for the quarter were $36 million, product price realizations averaging $105 per barrel of oil and $2.60 per Mcf gas. NGL product price realizations averaged $34 per barrel. First quarter net income available common stockholders totaled approximately $3 million or $0.04 per share.

Now some of our first quarter achievements; in Oklahoma, we recently established production from two additional liquids rich Woodford wells at an average maximum 24 hour rate of 3.3 million cubic feet of gas and 351 barrels of natural gas liquids. These wells were part of an eight well liquids rich pad that established a total maximum 24 hour rate of 29 million cubic feet of gas, 1911 barrels of natural gas liquids, of which our average in or out was 34%.

With recent a liquid rich half acreage acquisitions we have significantly increased our number of drilling locations it this part of the trend. As we’ve (inaudible) we have an access of 100 liquid rich drilling locations in our inventory and its inventory continues to grow.

As evidenced by our most recent wells, our Woodford team is consistently generating best in class result in term of initial production rate and has been diligently working on driving down the cost on the equation through increased efficiencies and negotiation of service contracts.

Our efforts have really paid off over the last several quarters where we are now drilling and completing our liquid rich wells for approximately $4 million to $4.2 million. Our internal goal this year is to consistently give well cash flow of $4 million. Take consideration of our joint venture structure and $4 gas price plus associated liquids, this has to have generating internal rate return in excess of 100%, which is comparable in many cases and superior to full year trends.

The $61 million remaining our phase 2 drilling area as of March 31, we continue to deliver exceptional rates of return over a repeatable basis. And moving onto Gulf Coast, our third well La Cantera the Broussard Estates number 3 has reached total depth of 18,035 feet, you may recall this well was sidetrack out of the additional well, what resulted in a significant cost savings.

We recently completed the well and the upper section of the Cris R-2 which will accelerate the net credit value of the entire La Cantera project. The well has been completed and perforated and production is expected to be about the end of the month at a growth rate of approximately 35 million cubic feet equivalent per day with a 21% liquids cut.

Production from the initial two wells contributed to number and restarted stage number 2 will continue to flow uninterrupted while we established production from Broussard Estates number three well. Speaking about first two wells, we estimate that during the first quarter of 2013 these wells generated $5.7 million of net field level cash flow roughly $1 million per month per well with a rebound in gas prices and our third well coming online La Cantera will be a major contributor to our total company cash flow.

Our midstream partner is currently installing a four mile pipeline to the north, which is expected to increase the takeaway capacity from the field. We expect a new pipeline to be in service by late May at which time the total La Cantera gross production is expected to increase to approximately 110 million to 120 million cubic feet equivalent per day with a 21% liquids cut.

We’re also working with our midstream partner to install additional down steam processing capacity which is forecasted to be in service by the fourth quarter. As a result, our total La Cantera gross production is expected to be 120 million to a 130 million cubic feet equivalent per day with an increase 28 % liquids cut.

Moving a couple of miles north of La Cantera to our Thunder Bayou prospect where our gulf coast team has been aggressively working today from our 70 square 3D survey, this newly acquired 3D data that enhance our original interpretation of the structural complex and we have commenced the unitization process for the potentially high impact project to be drill.

In addition, we have also identified several new prospects as a result of this newly acquired seismic survey. We are currently evaluating these new prospects in conjunction with planning Thunder Bayou project. We anticipate drilling the initial test well of Thunder Bayou during the second half of the year.

In addition to the La Cantera and Thunder Bayou projects, we have several oil focused projects in south Louisiana and that’s going to be drilled this year. Our Sawgrass project is a 2 million barrel equivalent target and it is expected to start in June.

We have an approximate 40% of working interest and is onshore well located in the Hollywood field and Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana. As seen 11 million barrels of oil in 1.1 Bcf of gas.

Next up is our Tokay prospect that our Ship Shoal 72 Field where we have achieved 96% drilling success rate and is expected to spud during the fourth quarter and exposed up to 2.5 million barrel equivalent target. Our Ship Shoal 72 Field has (inaudible) 25 million barrels of oil and 251 Bcf of gas today. We have 50% working interest in Tokay.

Moving to East Texas, we have established production on our latest horizontal Cotton Valley well. This 4200 foot horizontal, 100% working interest well established 24 hour maximum rate of 6.3 million cubic feet of gas and the 458 barrels of liquid from 11 of 14 stages.

We will reenter the well and complete the remaining three stages in approximately two weeks which should further increase the performance of this top tier cotton valley well. We remain excited about these assets where we have identified numerous 100% and 50% working interest targets available develop.

Quickly touching on the Mississippi Lime. We have commenced our 3 shooting in Key and Pawnee counties and expected that would be delivered in June and September respectively. We strongly believe that once the seismic data has been interpreted in well boards are integrated into the data with our well results we will have a significantly enhanced geologic model that will improve our results in this trend.

Without the benefit of 3D, we have drilled several wells without (inaudible) between 300 and 1300 barrels of oil per day. The goal of 3D is to help to identify uptown locations and reduce variability. Monitoring what other operators have recently said about 3D further strengthens our belief that our post-3D Mississippi Lime program will be significantly enhanced. At this time, I'll turn it over to Bond.

Bond Clement

During the quarter, our LOE totaled 9.7 million or $18 per Mcfe which was in the range of our guidance. As always, we will continue to see (inaudible) down our call for the going forward basis. G&A calls for the first quarter totaled 4.7 million and included about 500,000 of non-cash dot compensation extended.

G&A calls came in below low guidance (in) the lower than expected noncash.com. Interest expense in the first quarter totaled 2.9 million, which was also in line with our guidance. We capitalized 1.5 million of additional interest cost during the quarter. So in total, interest was 4.4 million.

Looking at the balance sheet during the quarter, we invested 32 million in CapEx; the breakout of this spend is approximately 21.8 million of direct CapEx, 5.6 million of leasing and seismic costs and 4.6 million of capitalized over net interest.

From a funding perspective, discretionary in cash flow during the quarter totaled 18.6 million and we received approximately 10.4 million in sales proceeds from our Woodford saltwater disposal systems that we monetized in January. As noticed in this morning's release, we expect our CapEx during the second quarter of 2013 to be substantially less than the first quarter and our full year 2013 CapEx estimate remains unchanged from our original guidance of 80 million to 100 million.

From the (equity) perspective, our bank group recently increased our volume base to 150 million highlighting the continued reserved value that we are creating. We are continuing to evaluate our Eagle Ford assets; which is consummated with further end for balance sheet and we would expect to use proceeds to add to our drilling at the back half of 2013.

Looking at production guidance for the upcoming quarter, our current plans call for producing between 92 million cubic feet and 97 million cubic feet equivalent per day. Pro forma for our Fayetteville divestiture in December 2012, the midpoint of our guidance for the quarter will be at 9% over the comparable 2012 period, and 4% from the first quarter of 2013.

The second quarter guidance is achieved and will represent the seventh consecutive quarter of production growth. Our production making for the quarter is projected to be 77% gas, 15% NGL and 8% oil. Full year production guidance remains at 90million cubic feet to 95 million cubic feet equivalent per day. On the hedging front, we currently have about (14) Bcf or roughly half of our projected 2013 gas production hedged at an average floor price of $3.60 and an average feeling of $3.93.

Today we have utilized (inaudible), are most recent hedge was a 4/475 column, with that I’ll turn back to Charlie.

Charlie Goodson

Supply (inaudible) fundamentals for natural gas on (inaudible) today than any time over the last 18 months. We flipped a substantial surplus in stores in 2012 to an 800 bcf storage deficit to a longer than expected winter. Our continued lower gas directed recall and resurgent demand for attractively priced gas. Given time, this industry has a way of self-correcting. Operationally, we have a tremendous success in each of our three core areas as we continue to steadily and consistently grow production. In East Texas we have a significant inventory of low risk projects that provides us many years of future drilling locations. In the Woodford we continue to generate outstanding returns under our joint venture. With over $60 million remaining under our Woodford joint, venture we have nearly 100 wells to drill under this cost sharing arrangements that allows our economics to rival those of the best oil plays in America.

In the Gulf Coast we have successfully completed the full scale development of a world class discovery of La Cantera and where we recently acquired three data set and growing inventory of half quality prospects undoubtedly believe we have additional significant opportunities in this area. With that, I’ll turn it back to Matt and we'll open up for questions, thank you.

Matt Quantz

Yes, operator, we're ready for questions.

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

Thank you. We will now begin the question and answer session. (Operator Instructions). And our first question will come from Will Green at Stevens, please go ahead.

Will Green - Stephens Inc

You guys talked about some efficiencies in the Woodford. It looks like those well costs are at least to my memory about a million dollars less than we were last year. Can you guys add some color around the efficiencies you're seeing there?

Charlie Goodson

Probably the biggest few items are I'd say really around completion. One, service costs in the area have come down. Two, as we've moved over into the liquids rich and we're really talking about in this cost structure is all of our liquids rich, so the shallower portion of the play and we figured that our (frac) design could be backed off some. So we needed less horsepower, a smaller job, and service costs in general are lower. So, when you add all of that along with full pad development we're drilling 4 to 8 wells from a pad, it's just the efficiency that you see when we go into full development mode.

Will Green - Stephens Inc

Got you. And are you guys still refining those completion techniques, is there more to go on the cost side or hired to bump the (inaudible), how are you guys thinking about kind of, tweaking those designs?

Charlie Goodson

The answer the yes, we are also refining and we’re kind of looking at performance and saying what is the best practice that we’re developing. On the cost side I would say, yes there is additional upside to us driving our cost down. It’s not necessarily only related to the completion side, we’re doing, we decided an internal role to get these things under 4 million and that’s our goal to get there and we’re employing a lot of practices to try to achieve that.

So, I think we’re doing things to lower cost and at the same time looking at productivity, always trying to improve on the frac design and the completion design and the drilling up the wells, and putting the cost of the completion and the productivity in the well in analysis that says, what is the best way to drill and complete these wells?

Will Green - Stephens Inc

Thanks for that. I’m sorry if I missed in the prepared remarks, but what were the two lock in (Kerala) wells producing in the first quarter either kind of current in the first two or the average early quarter?

Charlie Goodson

They’re producing on a daily basis combined on gross basis, they make about 70 million to 75 million gas a day and then the associate liquid is about 20 barrels per million of oils of our 15,00 barrels of oil per day.

Will Green - Stephens Inc

Is that restricted at all by the lack of pipes you guys were talking about?

Charlie Goodson

Not really Will. If we had this pipeline we maybe afford a little bit higher but we’ve done some work along with our midstream partner to optimize the existing facilities. The real bottom there is going to be too forward, it’s kind of we would bring to start well on, we’re going to have the additional capacity and when we are going to be able to get rid of some downstream compression to be up to 3 well open at an unrestricted rate.

And then secondly and it’s very important to be discussed that come to third quarter, the plan that we’re going into, it’s going to be upgraded. So, our liquids uplift is going to be rather significant and I think we decided maybe from 21% to 28% liquid stream, just through the plan being upgraded to be able to handle all the gas that we’re bringing up from this place.

Will Green - Stephens Inc

But here is your question, they are still back, they are, I mean they could flow it at higher rates if you wanted to, but they’re flowing at the right speed we’ve designed to flow that.

Operator

Our next question comes from Ron Mills of Johnson Rice. Please go ahead.

Ron Mills - Johnson Rice

Back to the liquids for a bit, in Woodford a total of 60,000 acres, how much of that acres is, do you think within the liquids window and how much do you think remains undeveloped such that, I think Charlie you said you have a 100 plus remaining locations and how long with inventory on does that provide?

Charles Goodson

Right now we got a little bit over 60,000; and that number is growing on a daily basis. So we are probably somewhere between 61,000 and 65,000 net acre, I mean gross acres to the JV right now, so we have half of that. Half of the - if it’s 65, which I think it’s probably more of a real-time number before picking up right now, of that number roughly 15 to 18 will be in the liquid rich area. We have developed probably 2000 to 3000 of that. Because we sit here today, we are somewhere plus or minus, call it 12,000 to 15,000 JV acres in our liquids rich development and should be moving a rig on to that in the early third quarter, so we will start developing that acreage. You know the majority of our undeveloped acreage that we had in inventory is where we started picking up in the later part of 2012. We had our existing acreage position. We found the liquids rich portion of this trend and got an aggressive with the development. We just were not able to replace the inventory and it’s fast and quick as we drilled it off. So that's what the last few months have been all about is replenishing that inventory, we have got a real good start on it. We are not done yet. We are still acquiring more acreage and very excited by getting a rig out there, call it 30 to 45 days from now.

Ron Mills - Johnson Rice

Do you currently ever rig in the liquids rich area?

Charles Goodson

Our existing rig right now is over on the east side of the trend.

Ron Mills - Johnson Rice

And is that just HBP acreage, or?

Charles Goodson

It’s really just waiting to get everything ready for full development over in the liquids rich. And I guess we really have no HBP issues overall in the east side of the trend to deal with, it was more of, let’s get the whole area infrastructure ready and pad ready to get in there and do it like we've done on the already existing portion of the trend.

Ron Mills - Johnson Rice

Okay so the 100 plus remaining locations is on that 12,000 to 15,000 acres that remain undeveloped?

Charles Goodson

Correct, and that only, and it’s probably grown, it’s probably higher than that now. But that is only the liquids rich portion and we have still got several hundred of dry gas deeper type inventory which in a little bit better gas price or even in today’s gas price, it have some really good returns when you look at. It takes a little bit more well cost to get it done. It is a deeper, higher pressure, but the IP rates and the ultimate EURs are higher and especially knowing that we are going to be having that burden of the fixed transportation cost come off of it at the end of the third quarter the returns are there or getting more and more competitive with everyone else we had in the company.

Ron Mills - Johnson Rice

Okay but the plan is still to shift that rig over to the liquid rich?

Charles Goodson

That’s correct probably somewhere between 30 and 45 days from now we’ll be ready.

Ron Mills - Johnson Rice

Okay and down at La Cantera, you’ve talked about where you going to be in a couple of weeks and where you’ll be once the processing capacity is in when you look at the 1500 barrels a day of condensate that its currently producing, do you expect the similar condensate yield from the third well and are you including that in the 35 million a day impact in your press release?

Charles Goodson

Yes we are.

Ron Mills - Johnson Rice

And when you have the incremental processing capacity, how much gas strength is going to be associated with it, I guess when you look up you have 28% liquid, is all of that uplift on the NGL side, what’s the shrinkage of the gas side?

Charles Goodson

Well the percentage change is all going to be from the NGL because our separation is happening, canoeist is happening at the field and so that really is not going to be driven by the plant expansion, it’s going to be recovery of the liquids enhancement and then the fact that we should have a little bit better operating plans so maybe a little bit better shrink to yield ratio but when you say how we’re getting from 21 to 28 it’s all about the plant expansion and the higher recoveries of the NGLs.

Ron Mills - Johnson Rice

Okay and then one last one for you Bond on the production guidance, obviously the first quarter came in at the top end and the second quarter you’re projecting at least flat but more likely some more sequential growth that puts you well on the path to be within or towards the upper end of your full year guidance, what are some of the risks that you see or what can happen over the second half of the year to impact that?

Bond Clement

Well as always certainly we have hurricane risk and in terms of Gulf of Mexico and some of our onshore production. Our Gulf of Mexico production was about 10 million a day net of the company in the first quarter. Our onshore gulf coast was about 15 million a day net of the quarter so it’s a pretty substantial piece of our production stream that does have some hurricane risks that we continue to monitor and we continue to have some allowance for in our model that’s really the biggest risk around at this point but La Cantera complete and third party infrastructure on schedule, actually ahead of schedule that’s really the biggest risk.

Ron Mills - Johnson Rice

And the plan is still to use your internal cash to fund your CapEx?

Charles Goodson

That’s correct. Cash flow plus the roughly 10 million of proceeds that we’ve received in January on Salt Water sale.

Operator

Our next question is from Tim Rezvan of Sterne Agee. Please go ahead.

Tim Rezvan - Sterne Agee

I had a question, kind of piggy backing off that last item you have said. You have talked about 10 million in proceeds from the Woodford sale, your cash flow statement shows 19.7 million, can you walk through kind of what the other items were?

Charles Goodson

Yes, well remember Tim, the cash flow statement on a cash basis versus balance sheet on accrual basis, we sold the payable assets at the end of December effectively. The transaction actually funded in January so if you look on our balance sheet you will see other receivable for 9.2 million as of December 31, 2012 which is where that sales accounted and then from a cash flow perspective, the proceeds oversee the 2013. So the number that you see on the cash flow statement represents the proceeds from a cash perspective for the Woodford, Salt Water and the favorable sale.

Tim Rezvan - Sterne Agee

Thanks for clearing that up. And then you mentioned you are still investigating a sale of the Eagle Ford properties, can you give any clarity on may be a timeline for that, or can I have, I guess what the indications of interests as strong they have been to date?

Charles Goodson

Thus far and we will continue to manage that process if you will internally and it's not one that we have gotten out aggressive on and that we have to do, it provides cash flow for the company and it’s simply, it’s a very hot area that we don’t have a scale position so if somebody would like to come in and buy the assets, we'll entertain several discussions. Thus far our indications of interest haven’t met our expectations so we’ll continue to have discussions but it’s one of those, it’s one of the things that if we don’t like the number we are just going to continue to do with what we have done with the assets which is let the cash flow. So, I will say, I guess, I will start to go back to the beginning part of your question, if it’s going to happen, I would say it’s a third quarter event and that doesn’t rule out that if it doesn’t happen in the third quarter we wouldn’t entertain up and down the road we just don’t have it set at a definitive time line.

Unidentified Company Representative

As we talked about, we don’t need that sale to CapEx budget; it would just be additional liquidity that we can plow back in the drill bed in the back half of the year.

Tim Rezvan - Sterne Agee

And then just last one, modeling question, how do you think about taxes going forward the rest of the year?

Charles Goodson

I will give you the short overview but if you want some more detail, you can certainly call me back. As you remember we have an evaluation allowance position relative to ceiling test impairments that we took last year. So we are not allowed to reflect the diverse tax assets on our balance sheet from an accounting rules perspective. So we had evaluation allowance, so on a go forward basis, we would continue to expect the effective tax rate to be significantly lower than our historical effective tax rate of 37% but it will vary from month-to-month, quarter-to-quarter and we can't really give you any significant guidance beyond and it should be significant less than our historical effective tax rate. If you need to know how the accounting work sets, call me back, I don’t think; that's probably something we want to get into the guts here on this call.

Operator

Our next question is from Richard Tullis of Capital One South. Please go ahead.

Richard Tullis - Capital One South

Looking at the Woodford play, if you strip out the promote in factor and say $4 million well costs current commodity prices; what would rate of return be in that scenario?

Charles Goodson

Yes without to promote on the heads up base, with a $4 million well and a $4 gas price going forward. You are probably in the mid 30's Richard.

Richard Tullis - Capital One South

For the full year guidance, you guys have any gulf coast expiration success factored in there whether it's in Sawgrass under by yield, et cetera.

Charles Goodson

We do have some exploration success built in for Sawgrass and Tokay we do not have any built into our production guidance relative to under by it.

Unidentified Company Representative

It's really in the fourth quarter of the year when that production would start coming in from a model perspective.

Richard Tullis - Capital One South

Okay and then just lastly given the current liquidity in spending CapEx close to cash flows within cash flows? Any thoughts on share re-purchases anything along those lines?

Charles Goodson

No, not at this point Richard as you know we are limited by our credit facility and our indenture in terms of what we can effectively do from a share repurchase. Our perspectives; I think we're much better suited growing the numerator instead of shrinking the denominator at this point.

Unidentified Company Representative

Yes I think we will be more interesting in putting a second rig in the Woodford or with the taxes result that we both today that assets could clearly command more capital if we're ready to go out and spend more and the returns that we are seeing on a ground floor basis on that basin or competing with all other areas. So, I would say that we have plenty of drill opportunities before we start going in repurchasing shares at this point.

Operator

Our next question is from (inaudible) and company, please go ahead.

Unidentified analyst

Just curious regarding around the CapEx, but if you could provide a little bit of color on the front end nature of your budget this year.

Charles Goodson

Yes, I mean what happened at the beginning was we had La Cantera and a drill in completion mode and we had a big set of completions in the Woodford from the end of last year we completed six additional wells and all those completion dollars hit along with a leasing program that's on going, so if you look at how our Solo East Texas well we drilled and completed in the first quarter, so we did have a lot more capital in the first quarter than we had budgeted for the rest of the year and that was by design, and you know what we said, should gas prices get better continue to firm up and cash flow comes up with it, we clearly had the inventory to go and add to it but at this point we are undoubtedly reaffirming our $80-100 million CapEx guidance.

Unidentified Analyst

Okay great that's helpful and then going back to gas prices here for a moment, hypothetically should processed remain above $4 in NCF for the balance of the year, would that alter your current plan in the Woodford at all.

Charles Goodson

Well you know the returns are there, it's just simply how much cash flow you have and do you want to stay within cash flow do you want to use some of your borrowing base, so you have more cash flow, then you have capital needs already. So it’s really about philosophy of how aggressively we want to deploy capital to that asset and at a $4 level the returns clearly justify us getting more aggressive and that would be probably the first area that we would go with more capital and we clearly are watching this and have a model and a forecast that shows additional cash flow coming in so that's a real time decision that we're making and wouldn't be surprised if gas prices do continue to firm up or hold them where they are that you'll have more cash flow to at least deploy a second rig later in the year.

Unidentified Analyst

Sure, and then last question from me, given the positive (inaudible) Thunder Bayou prospect, could you comment a little bit on the multiple potential prospects there and specifically there's your current gross almost estimate of a 110 bcfe include potential contribution from any of these prospects.

Charles Goodson

No, it does not, it does not, we have several prospects out there, the large one that’s out there has been there in the chute is reaffirming what we're seeing in that area and like Charlie said we're in the process of going through unitization of trying to get a project drilled up there later this year. But in addition to that we have handful of other leads in the area that we have leases open and we’re continuing to firm up and we’ll have more detail on that as they mature a little bit. Some shallow depth that could be a very inexpensive, it could be quick hit if you will and some larger projects that will take a little bit more time to flange up.

Operator

This concludes our question and answer session. I’d like to turn the conference back over to Mr. Quantz for any closing remarks.

Matt Quantz

Thank you everybody for the time this morning and please call for any additional questions.

Operator

The conference is now concluded. Thank you for attending today’s presentation you may now disconnect.

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