ConocoPhillips' (COP) CEO Ryan Lance Presents at Barclays CEO Energy Conference

| About: ConocoPhillips (COP)

ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP)

Barclays CEO Energy Conference

September 03, 2014 09:05 A.M. ET


Ryan Lance – Chairman and CEO


Paul Cheng - Barclays Capital

Paul Cheng - Barclays Capital

Good morning, next presentation is ConocoPhillips. With great pleasure we have the CEO and Chairman, Ryan Lance. Ryan took over the leadership about two years ago when they spinoff their downstream organization. Since then they have breathed new life and new energy into the organization and it correspondingly has also performed well. Without further delay, let me welcome Ryan to share with us the exciting thing happening in the company.

Ryan Lance

Thank you Paul and thank you Barclays for again hosting us at the conference again this year. I will breeze through a number of slides today then hopefully get some time afterwards for a little bit of Q&A and obviously we start with our cautionary statements. I will be making some forward-looking statements that could differ from our operations but the risks and uncertainties are described pretty well in these statements and also in our filings with the SEC.

What I would like to start with, when I am talking to investors or potential investors is really just simply state the goal that we have as a company right now. And it is pretty simple math, to deliver double-digit returns to our shareholders annually. We certainly think there is a clear place for this kind of stock in the market today, one that delivers safe, predictable, lower risk kind of returns to the shareholders.

So, how are we going to achieve these double-digit return, we are doing this through a combination of 3% to 5% production growth, 3% to 5% margin expansion in our existing portfolio which leads to 6% to 10% cash flow growth over the course of the timeframe we are talking about. And we are doing that with a pretty competitive dividend that we pay as a company. And we certainly think this is a pretty compelling formula in the energy space.

How do we do that? We do that from a company that starts and exist today as an unmatched position really in the independent world. You can see we are at the top of the second quarter; we produced 1.556 million BOE per day. We do that for 8.9 billion barrel reserve base and a 43 billion barrel resource base. Really a diverse, global, unique asset base we believe amongst independents.

You can see that it is relatively low execution risk giving our high percentage of OECD operations and really our goal, the thing that we exist to do is to organically create choices and options for investments. So we can allocate the capital right, put it into the things that are generating the best growth, the best margin, the best returns for the company.

And we recognize going forward there is certainly uncertainty in those plans but we believe we have got a great portfolio, a great investment choices and options to handle some of the risks that we see in the business today. So what I would like to do is kind of spend the rest of the time talking through that portfolio, what we are doing on the capital investment, how that's leading to the 3% to 5% production growth and how it is delivering the 3% to 5% margin growth.

Really in 2014 we are set for growth as a company. This is the time that we came through a lot of transition over the last couple of years and now we are really set to grow the 3% to 5% that we are going to deliver to our shareholders. And there is a thing happening inside the portfolio that is important. There is a shift from the major development or the major project spending that we have going on in the portfolio to a more development capital spending.

You can see from this slide we are going to be spending 60% more capital on those development drilling programs as we go over the course of the next few years as the major capital project roll off the books and we direct more of that capital, the unconventional into our development drilling programs. That gives me more confidence in our ability to deliver on this plan and it should give you more confidence in that as well.

So let me clear maybe a couple of other points from this slide and we really did establish our baseline for growth. As we came through the last couple of years we did a lot of portfolio coring up selling some non-strategic assets, putting that cash on the balance sheet so we could invest that capital for this 3% to 5% growth in production and margin. So we set the baseline at 1.472 that is our continuing operations, so minus all the assets that we sold ex-Libya. So we kind of parked Libya off to the side. So with all the uncertainty going on in Libya, so really to measure our performance we started 2013, the baseline is 1.472. And you can see we intend to grow 3% to 5% off that baseline as we make our investments and that's what we are going to grow our margins and in our production off of. And in fact by the end of this year we should be exiting the company at 1.6 million BOE per day. So we are well on track to deliver the 3% to 5% production and 3% to 5% margin growth.

Let me talk a little bit more about how that capital translates into the production that we see. We will spend about $16 billion of CAPEX annually, that's what is going to grow the 3% to 5% both on the production and the margin expansion. This will allow us to deliver that double digit returns to our shareholders, the cash flow growth plus the dividend.

I will show you a clear connection between the capital that we are investing and the production growth that it is delivering and I will show you that as we go through the portfolio. And really 95% of the capital that we are investing are going into assets that deliver greater than $30 barrel cash margin, greater than the existing portfolio to date. That's what is going to drive the 3% to 5% margin expansion and the cash flow growth over the next few years.

I will even do a little bit of a math for you here. So on the left is 2013, that is production by margin category and the middle bar is 2017. So really the message is quite simple, where we are growing, where we are investing, where we are putting the money is into those parts of the portfolio that have the highest margin. And we are anticipating about a 20% compound annual growth from our North American unconventional assets which are giving us greater than $40 barrel cash margins and we are shrinking the lowest cash margin parts of our portfolio in the North American dry gas typically that has less than $15 barrel cash margin. But the result is that average cash margin is increasing so a 3% to 5% production growth is delivering the 3% to 5% margin growth that we have talked about. That's what is going to grow our cash flows and that is what is going to grow and lead to the double digit returns that we are promising to our shareholders.

Now we have delivered that cash, that cash from operations, we have seen that margin, we have seen that expansion, and we have seen that cash flow growth. And this chart just shows that. It shows from 2012 to 2013 we grew nearly $1 billion of operating cash flows in the portfolio due to the places that we are investing, the production growth that we are seeing, and the margin expansion, the kinds of projects that we are investing in.

You should see out by 2017 if kind of today's sort of prices we ought to be delivering $20 billion to $23 billion of cash flow based on the projects that we are investing in and the production growth that we are seeing and the margin expansion that we have. That coupled with the dividend provides the double-digit returns to our shareholders. And at the same time our cash balance is strong; our debt is very strong and in good place so we can cover ourselves if things were to go to south for a little while.

So that brings me to the next slide which is our commitment and that is the dividend. Want to spend a little bit of time on that because it really underpins our value proposition as a company. It does remain our highest priority for the use of our cash in the company. We just pay the dividend to shareholders right off the top but I told folks that as our cash flow grows you ought to expect our dividend to grow over time as well.

We believe it is differential to our independent peers and certainly the U.S. integrated companies as well. It provides a predictable portion of our shareholder returns. So net dividend combined with our cash flow growth is 6% to 10% is what's going to drive that double-digit return to our shareholders. And now we are not just speaking about this we are actually doing it.

You saw 5.8% increase in our dividend for the third quarter this year for shareholders that are part of the Company. So that should show you the confidence that I have, the management team has in the plans that we are delivering, the investments that we are making, the growth that we are seeing both on the production and the cash flow side, and then when we see those cash flows growing, we see that operating cash grow we are going to give that -- some of that back to the shareholders through the dividends.

We really think the portfolio is delivering that and that’s really the power of that portfolio that we have in the company today. And that portfolio is described here in kind of one -- the same slide and it is an important one because it puts margins, decline rates, CAPEX and returns all on one particular slide. On the vertical axis this full cycle returns. When I say full cycle I mean full cycle, these are access cost, full development cost, infrastructure cost, operating, overhead everything. Everything combined that’s how we look at the portfolio, that’s how we judge investments that we are making in our company.

In a resource portfolio along that spectrum of returns and decline rates, high, medium, and low kinds of decline rates, the bubble size indicates the amount of capital that we are putting into these assets. So you see we are putting in the capital into the highest returning, highest margin assets in the portfolio.

Now there is some capital going into the lower left hand quadrant. Now these are different kinds of assets that are important to portfolio, these are long dated huge resource types of assets backed up by billions of barrels of resource like LNG and oil sands projects. They typically do have a lower full cycle rate of return relative to some of the other investment opportunities we have, like the unconventionals in the portfolio. But, they are important part of the portfolio. Because they are backed up by huge resource, they have very little to low decline rate, and they reduced capital intensity overtime and deliver a lot of cash and have a very significant cash margin. So they do have a place to play in a global diverse portfolio like ours.

Let me go into that portfolio a little bit and talk about what we see as some emerging strength we have in the North American unconventionals today. We are in the sweet spot of the Eagle Ford and Bakken. You can see that we are allocating about $5.5 billion to this particular piece of our portfolio over the next -– that’s on average over the next four years. That represents about $1 billion increase over the same time last year relative to what we are seeing in these particular opportunities. We are leveraging our technical capabilities to really exploit the upside, and learn more about how to optimally develop these. You see our production more than doubling going from 170,000 up to 370,000 barrels a day by 2017.

And the important ones to the bottom right side of this curve. This third party data shows we do have the lowest cost of supply for our unconventional position in North America and that’s important. Not only are we worried, we want to grow, we want to increase our margins. We want to do that with the highest returns possible, and we are doing that in our unconventional position.

Let me peel that back a little bit more into the Eagle Ford. So the Analyst Meeting in April we announced a 40% increase in our ultimate recovery in the Eagle Ford to 700 million barrels I don’t think we are done there. I think there is more upside yet from this world class position that we enjoy.

It will average about $3 billion a year of investment in this particular space that is up $1 billion from the same time last year as well. We grow to 250,000 barrels a day by 2017, that’s an increase from 150 where we are at today. And it is delivering, we finished the third quarter at about 157,000 barrels a day in the Eagle Ford where we saw a lot of flush production, new compressor additions, and facility additions coming on in the second quarter after the really bad weather that we had in the first quarter across the United States. So you ought to see a little bit flatter production as we go forward in the second -- third and fourth quarter with some turnarounds but, we are well on track to achieve the growth that we see coming from the Eagle Ford position.

Third party data as well, lot of people talk about IPs. They will tell you 5 minutes 30 second, one hour or three hour or five day, 30 day kind of IP, those are all interesting, they are all very good. We think some of the best date is just to go to Railroad Commission, pull their files on every month. Every month all the operators have to report production and the number of wells you have online. If you do that division you can find out who has got the best wells in the field today, and that's what that left hand curve represents.

Then certainly there is Wood Mac data too, if you want to look at full cycle who has got the best returns going on in the business today, the Wood Mac data is over to the right, it shows the MPV per acre and clearly ConocoPhillips has leveraged differential positions in the Eagle Ford to data we are pretty proud of and we are exploiting, and growing and developing.

But that’s not the only place, we also have in the sweet spot of the Bakken. Let me move to that now, we have great positions 600,000 net acres in the Bakken area. We expect to spend about $1 billion a year here. Our production is growing about 20% on a CAGR basis. Also kind of in the sweet spot and in the end of the second quarter produced 51,000 barrels a day. Now if you peel back the Bakken again you look in the upper left hand side of this -– we’re the best places in the Bakken the industry pretty much recognizes that the Nesson Anticline is the best geological position in the Bakken.

If you look in the right hand side, the yellow acreage you know we are nestled right on top of the Nesson Anticline. So we are in the sweet spot of the Bakken and you’ll see down on the bottom part that we are the top producers and that part of the region in ConocoPhillips stands apart from a lot of folks.

So like the Eagle Ford we’re taking advantage of a pretty advantaged position in the Bakken. Growing our production, growing our margins, and pretty excited about what the opportunity set has built on the technology side and the upside it could bring both to the Eagle Ford and to the Bakken. So those are two kind of the mature plays that we have in the portfolio. Let me spend a minute on some of the less mature plays but still capturing some capital and some excitement within the company and I’ll start with the Permian.

So we have acreage positions in both the Delaware and the Midland Basins that are shown here on the map. Our current focus and activity days in the Delaware Basin, we think our position in the Delaware is probably a little bit more perspective then the Midland basis right now. About 100,000 net acres running four rigs and we are testing those multiple stack pay that you see on the bottom right. And everybody talks about 4500 feet of stack pays in the Permian Basin. Each one of these intervals act a little bit differently, you have to understand what their fluid type or the rock properties are and just how to optimally go about developing those.

We are in the early days of running for rigs, we drilled about 26 wells this year. But the early results are pretty encouraging. We are getting high liquids yield and we are getting good returns out of the investments that we are making. So we hope to have a lot more to report probably by the end of this year, early part of next year in the Midland in terms of what we plan to do going forward to exploit our position in the Permian Basin.

Now in the interest of time I can spend more time talking about our unconventional position, what I won’t talk about and we as close to the average the Niobrara position over due in the Montney and the Duvernay, I’ll save those for a different date kind of in the interest of time. And so I can kind of breeze through the rest of the portfolio outside of our unconventionals.

And let me do that and start with the LNG projects that we have. We have been in this business over 40 years, a leader and an early mover in this business. All of our LNG contracts or oiling contracts go into very, very strong markets typically in Asia. I think we have demonstrated we have got a proven track record of project delivery in this particular space. Our Darwin and Qatar project are high liquid yields and we are exporting those to premium markets typically Asia.

In Kenai in Alaska we restarted the LNG plant as more gas was discovered in the Cook Inlet. So we can start up the plant again and start moving gas to our Asian customers. Also in Alaska the AKLNG project which is trying to monetize a huge amount of resource on Alaska's North Slope, 25 tcf bring that down to ice reports in the Cook Inlet region and export that. So we are really working on that project trying to understand what the cost structure and how you might go about developing that.

Then finally APLNG which is our big coalbed methane LNG project in Curtis Island in Crimson State Australia that’s on track. We are about 75% complete. If you saw the news this weekend we hydro tested and got both the tanks ready to go which is typically critical path for these LNG plants but the tanks have come up on schedule -- really ahead of schedule, and we are really on track at APLNG for first LNG in the middle part of next year.

Now the other part of that same style of assets in the portfolio are Canadian oil sands. Again these are long-term, low decline, pretty steady, great cash flows and high margin assets in the portfolio. And we really have a world class position in the oil sands with lots of options for future expansions. We have the Surmont facility and in Surmont 1 which was our initial investment in the oil sands today that’s operating at 115% of name plate capacity. So we are learning a lot about how to operate, how to get more efficient in this.

Our Surmont 2 project which will be 150,000 barrel a day gross addition up there is on track for first steam in the middle part of next year. So, that will be coming online and then we have our joint venture at Foster Creek, Christina Lake. So all those assets represent the best of the oil sands. How do you measure that? Well you look at what the steam oil ratio is and we have got -- our three projects have the best steam oil ratio in all of industry, that means lower cost, lower footprint lower greenhouse gas additions, better returns and better cash margins.

Now let me move kind of around the world a little bit. I’ll hit some of our international oil and gas opportunities. Those are also driving growth in the company. These are assets mostly from Europe and our Asia Pacific region. One in particular in Malaysia is an emerging country for us that should be producing in excess of 60,000 barrels a day. By 2017 very high margin oil production off the offshore Saba Island in the deepwater province.

We are ramping up projects that we started up earlier this year Jasmine in the UK, Ekofisk South in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea. Even though this is a very mature area with relatively high decline rates we are growing this piece of the business 4% over this time frame. Pretty impressive for a mature basin like we see in the -- primarily in the UK and Norwegian sectors of the North Sea. We have additional five startups coming this year, some in Malaysia, some in Europe and we have seven key start ups between now and 2017 that will drive that 4% compound annual growth rate and that production increase over this time frame from this particular set of assets.

If I come back to North America for a minute and talk about our conventional position in North America which is still a large part of our portfolio. 70% of our portfolio is pure centred in North America between the Lower 48, Canada and our Alaska position. And even there in a pretty mature basin we are offsetting decline and growing through 2017. And this is growth against the pretty high base of 300,000 barrels a day.

So in Alaska we are making investments, we’ve really doubled our investments over there over the last couple of years as a result of the effort that the Governor and the Legislature did to improve the fiscal terms in Alaska. So that passed the referendum or sustained the referendum vote in Alaska this last month and so we are encouraged about some of the opportunity we have, the investment climate, and ramping up our capital in Alaska.

And usually in this area obviously technology is the big part of what we do in these mature conventional assets, so it’s about EOR, it’s about using seismic data, its about 40 seismic real-time seismic and a lot of the technology that we are using. A lot of that goes into mitigation of base decline and some of these investment opportunities that are driving this growth.

Let me also talk about the North American Gas because I talked about a lot of what’s growing in our portfolio. I’d be less if I didn’t talk about what is shrinking in our portfolio. And let me provide a little bit of color on this North American Gas position for you today. You know we are intentionally not growing that. We are not making investments. Investments that we are making into this space are into whatever investments have more liquids associated with them. So I will put about $800 million into this particular space to protect but I’ll tell you we’ve got a huge resource base of about 6.5 billion barrels, over 15,000 identified locations so tremendous option value for the company.

And if you look at today, we have low lifting cost of around $1 in MCF. It generates about $1.5 billion of annual cash flow and that’s at a $4 per MCF kind of gas price. So you see at today’s sort of gas prices it delivers a lot of cash to the corporation. We are making some good margins, good returns on the production that we have, and it provides us a lot of option value should the demand start to increase and we see some increase in North American natural gas prices.

So that was a lot of conversation between what are we investing in, how are we growing our production, how is the margin expansion coming between now and 2017, want to spend just the next couple of slides talking about what’s beyond 2017. What are we doing on the exploration side to deliver choices and options into the portfolio for investment that will drive the growth and development of the company beyond 2017.

And it really is, we are embarking on an organic growth strategy through the exploration channel. We’ve had a pretty successful program over the last few years as we retooled and revamped this program over the last five to six years. If you go back and look over the last three years we’ve replaced 151% of our reserve gas organically, 179% reserve replacement in 2013, and it’s largely driven by the success that we’ve had in exploration side both in the unconventional and the conventional space.

We discovered about 6.7 billion barrels of resource between 2009 and 2013. We’ll spend about $2 billion in this particular asset class really driving the growth, the longer term growth and development of the company. And that's split between these unconventional, conventional, exploration by infrastructures, and onshore conventional exploration.

So appraising four major discoveries in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, I’ll talk a little bit about those. We are active in the western part of Africa and Senegal and Angola. And our goal really is to keep building high value opportunities in the company, keep investing in those, and really look for opportunities for investment that will drive growth beyond 2017. Let me go through just a few of those quickly.

Here is the Gulf of Mexico, we have quietly built up a pretty sizeable position. I think we are the third largest acreage holder now in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico over 2 million acres. We are really focused on the Lower Tertiary, the Paleogene where we have had four discoveries Tiber, where we own an interest in that. We will be appraising that this year. The Gila, the most recent of the Tertiary, the lower Paleogene discoveries, we have a rig coming there to do some appraisal at Gila this year as well. Shenandoah, which was another 2009 discovery pre-Macondo we drilled an appraisal well there, found over a 1000 feet of net pays. We are pretty excited about what the upside and opportunity looks for Shenandoah. And then finally Coronado which was also a discovery back in a few years ago and we are on that particular asset right now doing appraisal testing as well.

So we are excited about what the deepwater Gulf of Mexico has in store. We have got some discoveries under our belt, we are still acquiring acreage, we are coring up our position, we think we have found or we think we have identified a potential sweet spot that combines rock properties, fluid properties that can give us very profitable, good returning investments to compete on a cost of supply basis for investments in our portfolio.

Let me -– across the Atlantic to the West Coast of Africa and we didn’t get into the -- this is the conjugate margin to what’s going on in the sub-salt Santos Basin. This is the Kwanza Basin of Angola. We have two blocks, Block 36 and 37. We have 50% interest in 36 and 30% interest in 37. We operate both and see they are offsetting some of the recent discoveries in Angola which you’ve kind of de-risked the petroleum system which is good. We are playing that sub-salt carbonate rebuild up play that’s been successful in the Santos Basin on the Brazilian side.

We spudded the initial well here in the last month. So we are drilling ahead and hope to be successful clearly. We have got a four well commitment, we’ll be drilling two wells on each of the blocks. So we are pretty hopeful and certainly excited about what it could start. So that’s a little bit about the exploration side both the Gulf of Mexico and Angola. We have other exploration activities going on in the Norwegian sector, UK sector of the North Sea, deepwater offshore Saba Island, Malaysia. So we like the deepwater province and we are doing quite a bit of explorations still in the unconventionals both in North America and internationally.

And again the intent is to drive choices and options in the portfolio that we can invest in, that will deliver growth and development of the company well beyond in 2017 while into the next decade. That’s the focus of myself and the management team right now. Executing on the current program that we have and then really finding choices and options for investment that will drive our longer term growth for the company.

So let me wrap up, maybe take a few questions. Really as we have come out, as Paul mentioned we spun the company in May of 2012, created the largest independent oil and gas company in the world today based on production and reserves. And really the message is our value proposition is unchanged. We are on track for delivery of double digit returns to our shareholders annually.

We believe we have got a premium position in the best of the unconventional plays. We have increased our resource estimates in the Eagle Ford up to 700 million barrels. We are excited about our other developing unconventional plays as well and really we are and this business is about choices and options for investments so you can drive growth, drive margin expansion, and improve returns in your business. So we are doing that. We are putting things in whether its upside done conventional, some of the exploration activity, applying technology to the Canadian oil sands, or creating options in the company that would continue to drive the growth and development, continue to drive cash flow appreciation and margin expansion in the company and continue to grow our returns. That’s what we are about.

Dividend remains our top priority for cash. It creates good capital allocation processes in the companies that remains a very, very important part of our offering today. So as you look out, our financial position is strong, good cash on the balance sheet, our debt is in a good place, we got a lot of capacity, we will grow our production 3% to 5%, we’ll grow our margins 3% to 5% and we are on track to deliver double digit returns to our shareholders.

So with that I’ll stop there Paul and certainly entertain questions here or in the breakout room.

Question-and-Answer Session

Paul Cheng - Barclays Capital

Thank you Ryan, we would take one to two questions here and then move to the breakout session afterwards. Any questions here, well maybe I will start off with one, Ryan, if you are looking at your unconventional oil portfolio what will be the mixed sort of benchmark or indicator to suggest now that you are reaching a point you feel comfortable enough saying that I have more opportunities set, what maybe that timeline, what maybe the indicators you are looking at?

Ryan Lance

Well, thanks Paul. I think for us it is probably couple of things. Some of the emerging plays we are doing the early pilot testing in the Permian, we are continuing a pretty extensive program in the Niobrara and up in the Montney and Duvernay. So, I suspect over the course of the next year or so we are going to have some things that we can talk about that will describe some upside opportunity in those.

And then in the mature plays, the Bakken and the Eagle Ford, the technology that we are deploying and the pilots that we still are continuing to test, the down spacing, moving into the different stratagraphic horizons within the gross interval. I think we continue to get surprised to the upside. So I think you are going to hear some down spacing that works in certain areas, maybe not in all areas and you are going to hear some of that upside. So I think there is upside in the emerging plays and there is certainly upside in the kind of development plays we have in the portfolio today.

Paul Cheng - Barclays Capital

Ryan in the down spacing that -- when will you be -- feel confident enough to say okay, we have identified and now that we will start to ordering our (ph) program?

Ryan Lance

Well, I think we are doing that today in some areas. I think, you have to look at take Eagle Ford for example, what works in the black hole, works in the volatile common window and works in the gas window are going to all be a little bit different. So each one of the operators in those particular areas are going to have a different solution in terms of down spacing and what technology and what optimum completions will work. And the area that we are at and which is in volatile (ph) window, we already see some down spacing opportunities there and we continue to test both the upper and the lower Eagle Ford, try to understand what the optimum spacing is.

Right now our plans are really on 80 acre spacing but we understand and we recognize that the area even with our acreage position that we ought to be down spacing. So we are actually moving towards that today. Will it become ubiquitous across the entire play, we don’t really know. We are making some tests. We are doing some pilot testing in other fringier parts of the play to understand what the down spacing requirement has.

But we are also finding interesting things. We are re-fracking wells, we are going in and doing some recompletions, we are doing some tests to understand what the simulator rock volume is and I think we are getting a bit surprised to understand that even in the gross interval we are not stimulating all of the rock volume. So we have to do a better job even in the existing completions that we have to maximize the opportunity potentials there.

Paul Cheng - Barclays Capital

I think we will have time for one final question before we move to breakout session. If not we will directly move to the breakout session. It is Liberty 1 and 2, yes upstairs. Thank you.

Ryan Lance

Thank you.

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