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BreitBurn Energy Partners L.P. (NASDAQ:BBEP)

Q2 2011 Earnings Call

August 8, 2011 1:00 pm ET


Greg Brown - EVP & General Counsel

Hal Washburn - CEO

Randy Breitenbach - President

Jim Jackson - CFO


Bernard Colson - Oppenheimer

Jon Langenfeld - Robert W. Baird

Mike Jones – Imperial Capital

Adam Leight - RBC Capital Markets


Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. Welcome to the BreitBurn Energy Partners investor conference call. The Partnership's news release made earlier today is available from its website at During the presentation, all participants will be in a listen-only mode. Afterwards, securities analysts and institutional portfolio managers will be invited to participate in a question-and-answer session. (Operator Instructions).

As a reminder, this call is being recorded, Monday, August 8, 2011. A replay of the call will be accessible until midnight, Monday, August 22 by dialing 877-870-5176 and entering conference ID 4066557. International callers should dial 858-384-5517. An archive of this call will also be available on the BreitBurn website at

I would now like to turn the conference over to Greg Brown, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of BreitBurn. Please go ahead, Sir.

Greg Brown

Thank you, operator. Good morning everyone. Presenting this morning will be Hal Washburn, BreitBurn's CEO; Randy Breitenbach BreitBurn's President; and Jim Jackson BreitBurn's Chief Financial Officer. Mark Pease, our Chief Operating Officer, had a longstanding commitment and is not able to join us today. After their formal remarks, the call will be opened for questions from securities analysts and institutional investors.

Let me remind you that today's conference call contains projections, guidance and other forward-looking statements within the meaning of the federal securities laws. All statements other than statements of historical facts that address future activities and outcomes are forward-looking statements. These statements are subject to known and unknown risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied in such statements.

These forward-looking statements are our best estimates today and are based upon our current expectations and assumptions about future developments, many of which are beyond our control. Actual conditions and those assumptions may and probably will change from those we projected over the course of the year.

A detailed discussion of many of these uncertainties are set forth in the cautionary statement relative to forward-looking information section of today's release and under the heading risk factors incorporated by reference from our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2010, our quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, our current reports on Form 8-K and our other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Unpredictable or unknown factors not discussed in these documents also could have material adverse effects on our forward-looking statements. Except where legally required, the Partnership undertakes no obligation to update publicly any forward-looking statements to reflect new information or events.

Additionally, during the course of today's discussion, management will refer to adjusted EBITDA, which is a non-GAAP financial measure, when discussing the Partnership's financial results. Adjusted EBITDA is reconciled to its most directly comparable GAAP measure in the earnings press release made earlier this morning and posted on the Partnership's website. This non-GAAP financial measure should not be considered as an alternative to GAAP measures, such as net income, operating income, cash flow from operating activities, or any other GAAP measure of liquidity or financial performance.

Adjusted EBITDA is presented as management believes it provides additional information relative to the performance of the Partnership's business such as our ability to meet debt covenant compliance tests. This non-GAAP financial measure may not be comparable to similarly titled measures of other publicly traded Partnerships or limited liability companies because all companies may not calculate adjusted EBITDA in the same manner.

With that, let me turn the call over to Hal.

Hal Washburn

Thank you, Greg. Welcome everyone and thank you for joining us today to discuss our second quarter 2011 results. We had strong performance this quarter with net production increasing 2% from prior quarter, operating cost per Boe towards the low end of the guidance range and adjusted EBITDA trending towards the high end of the guidance range.

In addition, we are also excited to be executing our acquisition strategy acquiring both oil and natural gas properties in the Rocky Mountains, one of our core operating areas. In July, we closed a $58 million acquisition in Eastern Wyoming; on July 27, we now have the second acquisition in Wyoming for $285 million, which we expect to close before year end 2011. I will talk more about these acquisitions shortly.

Let me start by highlighting few key quarterly accomplishments. During the second quarter, we produced 1.662 Mmboe of oil and natural gas or 18,265 Boe per day. Overall production was in line with our forecast with strong production coming from both eastern and western divisions. Our dedicated operating team has been managing cost well and our lease operating expenses including transportation fees and excluding property taxes came in at 1902 per Boe, which is toward the lower end of our guidance range of $18.50 to $21 per Boe.

Adjusted EBITDA for the second quarter was $51.6 million which on annualized basis is toward the high end of our guidance range of $195 million to $205 million.

As I just mentioned, we are also pleased that through strategic acquisitions, we further expand our presence in Rocky Mountains. We continue our strategy of commodity diversification and leverage our existing operational expertise in the area.

On July 27, we announced our acquisition of natural gas and oil properties at attractive valuation metrics in the Evanston and Green River Basins of Southwest Wyoming for approximately $285 million. This acquisition enhances our exposure to natural gas, which we think is a valid attractively relative to oil, improves our lease operating expense metrics and add to our inventory of low risk development drilling opportunities. These assets are great acquisition for us as they are consistent with our strategy of acquiring long-lived assets that are predictable, low decline production profile, high operating margin and low risk exploitation and development opportunities.

We also announced the acquisition in oil properties in Greasewood Field located in Niobrara County, Wyoming for $58 million. This acquisition closed on July 28 and we were able to immediately add approximately 500 Boe per day to our production in the area. We believe that these high quality assets yield an attractive valuation and are another great addition to the Partnership.

Further, we expect to realize operation synergies by leveraging our strong management team working in (inaudible). Both acquisitions will be immediately accretive to distributable cash flow per unit. We will continue to seek other acquisition opportunities that fit our business model and are capable generating incremental cash flow to our unit holders.

Turning to our distributions, we announce the second quarter distribution of the $1.69 per unit on an annualized basis, which will be payable on August 12 to the record holders of common units at the close of business tomorrow. This is our fifth consecutive quarterly distribution increase and a 10.5% increase over second quarter 2010 distribution levels.

The Partnership's results in the second quarter have given us a great platform to build on for the remainder of 2011 and thereafter. We will continue to focus on delivery on our capital program and executing on our growth through-acquisition strategy.

With that, I will send the call over to Randy who will discuss selective results for the quarter, recap our hedging activity and provide an operations update and further discuss our recent acquisitions. Randy?

Randy Breitenbach

Thanks Hal. I will start by addressing our second quarter commodity hedging activity and provide an overview of the impact of these derivative instruments on our financial results.

For the second quarter of 2011, crude oil and natural gas revenues including realized gains or losses on commodity derivative instruments totaled $93 million compared to $99 million in the first quarter of 2011. Quarterly revenues included realized losses on commodity derivative instruments of $1.8 million in the quarter as compared to realized gains of $6.4 million in the first quarter.

Realized natural gas prices for the second quarter averaged $6.42 per Mcf compared with NYMEX natural gas prices of $4.38 per Mcf. And realized crude oil and liquids prices averaged $79.48 per barrel for the quarter, while NYMEX crude prices averaged $102.2. And non-cash unrealized losses from commodity derivative instruments for the second quarter were $48.2 million, primarily reflecting the decrease in oil futures prices during the quarter.

As per our hedging activity during the quarter, we continue to layer in new hedges on our base production in the outer years opportunistically to mitigate commodity price volatility. In the second quarter, we hedged approximately 900,000 MMBtus covering 2015 gas production at a price of $6.

We have also been hedging our recently announced Wyoming acquisition. In July, we entered into a crude oil hedge for approximately 182,500 barrels of oil production in 2015 at a $101.50 per barrel. This hedge was added in conjunction with our acquisition of oil properties in the Greasewood Field in Eastern Wyoming. For the acquisition of gas and oil properties in Wyoming, we entered into natural gas hedges for the period covering 2011 to 2015 on approximately $27.2 million MMBtus at a weighted average price of $5.12.

These hedges secure the expected economics associated with the transaction and mitigate the impact of the recent collapse in gas prices. Our hedge portfolio remains a key strength for the Partnership in managing commodity price volatility, stabilizing revenues and cash flows and supporting our borrowing base.

As you know, a significant portion of our oil and gas volumes are well protected at attractive prices through 2015. Assuming the midpoint of 2011 production guidance is held flat, and based on our previously announced production levels for our two most recent acquisitions, our production hedge is approximately 80% for the second half of 2011; 70% in 2012; 65% in 2013; 45% in 2014, and 35% in 2015.

Average annual prices during this period range between $80.94 and $96.79 per barrel for oil, and $5.48 and $7.53 per MMBtu for gas. An updated price portfolio summary will be available on our website today.

With that, I would like to turn to our operations. In the second quarter, we produced 1.662 million Boe or 18,265 Boe per day, a 2% increase from the first quarter of 2011 production of 1.629 million Boe or 18,098 Boe per day. This is an about in the middle of our 2000 guidance range. The production split for the quarter was approximately 47% crude oil and NGL, and 53% natural gas.

Total capital expenditures in the second quarter were $28.1 million, which is slightly above our 2011 guidance. This is consistent with our normal pattern of increased capital activity during the non-winter months.

Year-to-date, we have spend about $37.8 million and for the full-year we are still expecting to spend within the guidance range that we previously announced. Lease operating expenses and processing fees excluding transportation expenses came in at $30.6 million or $18.41 per Boe for the second quarter of 2011, compared to first quarter lease operating expenses and processing fees of $27.5 million or $16.87 per Boe. The increase was primarily due to increased activity in both positions coming out of the winter month and also due to increased fuel and utilities costs.

Strong pricing for oil continues to put upward pressure on our cost for services and materials. Our operating teams continued their strong focus on controlling cost and we continue to see the results from those efforts.

Moving onto the second quarter performance of our two operating divisions, production in the Eastern division, which consist of Michigan, Indiana and Kentucky was up about 2%, compared to the first quarter production. Controllable lease operating expenses for the Eastern division for the second quarter were above first quarter expenses mainly due to increased activity coming out of the winter months.

The increased expenditures were seen primarily in compression repair and maintenance and well services. Where possible our maintenance work is scheduled for the warmer dryer months. This allows the work to be completed in less time and at a lower cost. Capital spending in the Eastern division for the second quarter consisted of seven drill wells, 17 recompilation, and 3 facility optimizations, which added net production of 1.4 million cubic feet equivalent per day.

In the Western division, which includes production in California, Wyoming and Florida, second quarter production came in about 2% higher than the first quarter production. With particularly strong performance in two of our California fields, Santa Fe Springs and Sawtelle, and had solid performance in Wyoming and Florida. Controllable LOE for the quarter was higher than first quarter mainly due to the seasonal swing in activity and the increased operating expense in Florida from the new wells we have brought on production.

Turning to our recent acquisitions of gas and oil properties in our Rocky Mountain region I would like to touch on some of the highlights on the acquired assets. First, let me say that we are very pleased to have additional assets in the region. It is an area where we have operated for many years and has one of our strongest operating teams who have continually delivered results. This experienced team will greatly facilitate the integration of these assets into BreitBurn it will help maximize their value of company. The entire Rocky Mountain team is excited about these opportunities.

Our latest acquisition announced on July 27 has estimated proved reserves of approximately 230 Bcfe and expected 2012 net production of more than 30 million cubic feet a day per day. These reserves are primarily located in the Evanston and Green River Basins of Southwest Wyoming and are approximately 95% natural gas. The properties have approximately 620 producing wells in 16 fields. There are over 90 proven undeveloped drilling locations and we believe there are more than 600 additional potential drilling locations, the majority of which will be infill/increased density drilling.

We plan to begin drilling activity as soon as possible after the acquisition closes. The acquired reserves have an estimated reserve life index of approximately 21 years on estimated proved reserves and in 12 years on estimated proved developed producing reserves.

As Hal mentioned, earlier this acquisition will help improve our lease operating expense metrics as it lift in cost of approximately $0.83 per Mcfe. This acquisition is expected to close by year end 2011.

In July, we closed and announced an acquisition in Wyoming consisting of oil properties in the Greasewood Field located in Niobrara County. The acquired reserves are 100% oil and are long-lived with reserve life index of approximately 16 years. The estimated total proved reserves are approximately 2.95 million Boe with current production of approximately 500 Boe per day. The acquired properties have 14 producing wells, and 4 injection wells along with 15 to 20 potential development locations. We own a working interest of approximately 74% and a net revenue interest of approximately 61%.

We believe both of these acquisitions are very good fit with our strategy and the assets are excellent additions to our portfolio.

With that, I will turn the call over to Jim.

Jim Jackson

Thank you, Randy, I will start by reviewing some of the more specific results for the quarter and the year, and we will conclude with an update on our quarterly position.

Oil and natural gas revenues including realized gains, losses on commodity derivative instruments were $93 million in the second quarter compared to $99 million in the prior quarter. The decrease primarily reflects the timing of crude oil sales in Florida with one sale of occurring in the second quarter versus two sales in the first. You will recall that we produce into inventory in Florida and transport the crude oil from market periodically, which can result in variations in revenue and profitability quarter-over-quarter.

As Randy mentioned, realized losses on commodity derivative instruments were $1.8 million compared to $6.4 million of gains in the prior quarter reflecting higher crude and natural gas prices in the second quarter as compared to the first quarter.

General and administrative expenses, excluding unit based compensation expense, were $6.2 million or $3.74 per Boe in the second quarter versus $7.1 million or $4.33 per Boe in the first quarter of 2011, which primarily reflected higher first quarter expenses related to our year-end accounting and tax compliance costs.

Second quarter adjusted EBITDA was $51.6 million, down from the prior quarter, but still trending above the high end of our guidance range. The decrease was largely due to lower oil and natural gas revenues, which were impacted by the timing of our crude oil sales in Florida.

Production and property taxes total $6.2 million in the second quarter, up from $5.8 million in the first quarter, primarily due to higher Wyoming and Florida severance taxes reflecting higher crude oil prices.

Net interest and other financing cost, excluding realized and unrealized gains and losses on interest rate swaps, for the second quarter were $9.1 million, compared to $9.4 million in the first quarter. Cash interest expense, which includes realized loses on interest rate derivative contracts and excludes unrealized gains and loses on interest rate derivative contracts, as well as debt amortization cost, totaled $8.9 million in the second quarter of 2011.

We recorded net income of $57.5 million of $0.92 per Limited Partner unit for the second quarter of 2011. As Randy mentioned, the increase in net income compared to the first quarter was primarily due to unrealized gains on commodity derivatives during the period, compared to unrealized losses on commodity derivative instruments during the first quarter.

Let me now turn to our liquidity position. Our outstanding long-term debt as of June 30 was $427.4 million and consisted of borrowings of $127 million under our credit facility and $300.4 million in senior notes. This includes $4.6 million in unamortized discounts on senior notes. As of July 31, we had $201 million outstanding under the credit facility. Our July 31 debt balance includes approximately $58.1 million drawn to fund both the Greasewood Field acquisition which closed on July 28 and a deposit for recently announced Wyoming acquisition.

We currently plan to fund the recently announced Wyoming acquisition with approximately additional $271 million in borrowing on the credit facility initially. This will increase borrowings on the facility to approximately $472 million. Our current facility has a $735 million borrowing base. So, we will have approximately $260 million of liquidity, which is substantial obviously. Our next borrowing base re-determination is scheduled for October 1, and we would expect it to benefit from the addition of the two Wyoming acquisition.

One final note, during the quarter, Quicksilver reduced its position in the Partnership by selling 7 million common units representing Limited Partnership interest in the Partnership in an underwritten offering, and sold an additional 0.6 million in July as part of the underwriter’s over-allotment option. This reduced Quicksilver’s ownership in Partnership to approximately 13.6%.

This concludes our formal remarks. Operator, you may now open the call for questions.

Question-and-Answer Session


(Operator Instructions). And we will take our first question from Bernard Colson with Oppenheimer.

Bernard Colson - Oppenheimer

There's a few questions. The capital spending during the quarter, can you talk a little bit about that, I don’t know if I missed that or not, but is substantially higher than we saw on the first quarter, just what that went out?

Randy Breitenbach

Yes, first and foremost, as I said in a couple of places in the call, what were the amount of capital outlays in the number of projects actually normally take up after the winter months. And I can go back through and the capital spending in the Eastern division for the second quarter consisted of 7 drill well, 17 re-completions, and 3 facility optimizations, and added additional net production of 1.4 million cubic feet of equivalent per day. The same thing on the western division because of Wyoming, and specifically Wyoming because the one or month we tend to take up and start drilling again during the second quarter.

Hal Washburn

But out total for the year, we expect to be in the guidance range now ex the acquisitions.

Bernard Colson - Oppenheimer

Ok, so no change in that going forward?

Hal Washburn

That’s correct.

Bernard Colson - Oppenheimer

Okay, and then, Jim, do you mind, just kind of go over those numbers, again on where we are currently on a credit facility? I couldn’t get all those.

Jim Jackson

Sure. So, as of the end of June, we had a $127 million borrowed under the facility plus we had $300 million of principal amount outstanding on the senior notes, but we had a $127 million drawn as of July 31, we customarily on these calls not only give the quarter end number but the debt balance at the end of the prior month in which we hold the call. So, as of July 31, we had $201 million outstanding under the facility and that included $58.1 million that we drew down to fund the acquisition of the Greasewood Field, as well as the deposit of approximately $14 million that we put up as part of the purchase and sale agreement for the second Wyoming transaction we announced. Okay?

Bernard Colson - Oppenheimer

Okay, and then there was --

Jim Jackson

We currently intend to fund the balance of this second Wyoming acquisition under the facility as well. Recall we announced the $285 million purchase price. There is likely to be some small changes for that which are pretty typical as we go through the closing process. But the $285 million purchase price less the deposit leaves $271 million of additional borrowings to be funded at closing. And that will take our borrowings under the facility to $472 million approximately, which will leave us based on our $735 million borrowing base with an additional $260 million of liquidity. And that's before any increase in the borrowing base or adjustment to the borrowing we are having added both the Greasewood assets as well as the most recent Wyoming transaction assets, Bernie.

Bernard Colson - Oppenheimer

Okay, all right. And then, I guess, what we are trying to calculate the debt to EBITDA, are there any other adjustments or can we just kind of take the -- and we got 472 in the borrowing on the current facility, you got 300 in notes and whatever the assumption is on the EBITDA from the acquisition is kind of adding that to the run rate, are there any other big adjustments to make there?

Jim Jackson

No, there aren't. The key adjustment is that our credit facility obviously allows us to bring in on a pro forma basis the LTM EBITDA when we calculate the leverage ratios.

Bernard Colson - Oppenheimer

Okay, and just lastly, if you could just comment on what are your thoughts on leverage and whether you are comfortable where you are? Thanks.

Jim Jackson

Sure. Our position in terms of our long range financing strategy really is unchanged. I think we were very clear with investors and with bond holders that that we are certainly comfortable at the 2.5 time debt to EBITDA level. But in the context of the acquisition that leverage level even on a pro forma is likely to tick up. That said, we are in a position to just monitor the market and think about how best to term out debt, etc, and that remains our intention.


Next we will hear from Jon Langenfeld with Robert W. Baird.

Jon Langenfeld - Robert W. Baird

Can you guys just give a little bit more color on your position in the Collingwood Utica specifically? How does pan to the long-term strategy for BreitBurn? And at what kind of commodity prices would you actually begin to take a deeper look at that?

Hal Washburn

We really are waiting on the Collingwood Utica. We have a very large position well over 100,000 net acres, virtually all of which is held by production, I mean, underlies our interim trend on acreage. Judging from what we know now about the play we are likely to be in the liquids rich area. However, as we also discussed we are not likely to drill wells ourselves. We are really looking to other operators whose business is more that sort of drilling to prove this play up. At this point, there is not a lot of activity with gas prices the way they are. However, we are in a position where when activity occurs we will be able to take advantage of it, but I don’t expect to see us drilling Collingwood Utica wells in the near future.

Jon Langenfeld - Robert W. Baird

To your knowledge outside of Canada, are there any other major operators who are drilling up there currently?

Hal Washburn

It's very difficult to find what's going on. Michigan does allow some wells to be drilled under the mineral test permit that allows to keep all of the information tight, including I believe whether the well is being drilled or not. So, we hear that certainly things are happening but we don’t have anything that we can confirm.

Jon Langenfeld - Robert W. Baird

Okay, great. You guys have covered pretty much everything else I asked. Thanks very much.


(Operator Instructions). We’ll now hear from Mike Jones of Imperial Capital.

Mike Jones – Imperial Capital

So just a little more on the leverage, I know 2.5 times I guess a long-term goal, is there a specific strategy to deleveraging over time? Do you think about it in two to three, four-year context, or just terming out debt because of the maturity out farther to start with?

Jim Jackson

Hi, it's Jim. The key for us is just making sure we are in a position where we don’t have to do anything. So, I wouldn’t say we’re going to wait five years before we start to term out funds borrowed to fund both of the Wyoming acquisitions, but we’re in the position to just monitor the market and be opportunistic based on what we think make sense at any given time.

Mike Jones – Imperial Capital

Got it, and if you think of collateral coverage coming in from these new reserves it’s a nice volumetric increase. How does sort of LTM EBITDA from the acquisition if any of you guys open to give that number?

Jim Jackson

We’ve not closed on the second transaction. I think once we get there we’ll sort of assess how specific we want to be. These are obviously important transactions, which both gets us back into the acquisition game, but they’re not frankly overly large with respect to our base business. And we continue to think we’ll have a much larger asset portfolio come October. That will be reflected in the borrowing base redetermination and we’re hopefully that more liquidity coming out of that redetermination certainly than we have now, but even now our liquidity is substantial.

Mike Jones – Imperial Capital

Yes. Last question is that how is Florida doing? How do you guys think of the well performance there? Is it sort of a candidate to increase capital going forward?

Hal Washburn

Florida is working well. As we’ve discussed, we’re pleased with the overall program. There is a lot of variability in well performance. As you know, the first well came in at well over 1,000 barrels of oil a day, declined rapidly from there, but it was a very large well for us. We’re drilling fifth well and expect to have that completed and online by the end of the year. At that point we really kind of revisit what we’ve learned and what we know. The drilling costs are well in control. We talk about the second well and we made a series of changes and the third fourth and fifth well so far have come in out expected on drilling cost and ahead of time. So feel good about that, but really it’s a matter of what are we going to get. What are the production reserves we’re going to get from these wells and we’re constantly looking at that. We maybe able to move to several other fields along the trend with this rig. We maybe in a position to release this rig and bring another rig at some other point. We’re just -- we’re constantly evaluating that and looking at it, but we really don’t have a plan at this point other than to finish the fifth well.

Jim Jackson

Mike, I just want to clarify on other thing which I think is important to emphasize. With the pro forma for closing both Wyoming transactions, certainly our leverage level based on any reasonable assumption of EBITDA contribution from the acquisitions is going to be slightly above three times. I would just point out that that is very consistent with what we have indicated to both equity investors and fixed income investors with respect to our acquisition model going forward that we would in the context of the deal likely take above three times leverage. But again, be committed over time and on an opportunistic basis too getting back to that 2.5 times area level, which allows us to be active and prepared to pursue other transactions, acquisitions going forward.

Mike Jones – Imperial Capital

Yeah, as I looked at the Quicksilver acquisition years ago and so I think you guys went up and then came down. Just want to get a sense and how you were thinking about that this time going forward and that kind of answers it.


Adam Leight with RBC Capital Markets has our next question.

Adam Leight - RBC Capital Markets

Just wanted to check a, how much cargo is delayed in Florida that was not sold in the second quarter that moves into the third, first of all?

Jim Jackson

Yeah, it's Jim. At the end of second quarter, I don’t have the exact volumes, Adam, but as I said, we got some variability because we produced into inventory. We generally ship when we have about 130,000 barrels, but I think we may have that specific number actually.

Hal Washburn

Yeah, it’s about 135,000 barrels. You are right on.

Adam Leight - RBC Capital Markets

Okay. In general, can you give us a little bit more color on the production break down by area, how the capital is going to be spent going forward?

Hal Washburn

Adam, it is Hal. We really haven’t changed that from our guidance that we issued at the beginning of the year, that will be depending on the time line on closing the second Wyoming deal. There will probably be some net capital allocated, but until we know when that closes and -- until it closes, we really aren’t in a position to revise our guidance. So, it remains unchanged from what we talked about at the beginning of the year.

Adam Leight - RBC Capital Markets

Okay. And so, the break down is pretty similar as well?

Hal Washburn



(Operator Instructions). And there are no further questions, Mr. Washburn. I will turn the call over to you for any closing remarks.

Hal Washburn

Great, thank you, operator. On behalf on Randy, Mark, Jim, Greg and the entire BreitBurn team, I thank everyone on the call today for their participation. And operator, you may now bring this call to a close.


And that concludes today’s conference call. Thank you everyone for joining us. You may now disconnect.

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