Second Quarter Earnings in the Bakken

by: Michael Filloon

Bakken investors have been waiting for Brigham's (BEXP) earnings. This may be the best positioned pure player. The environment of the second quarter has been difficult. This past winter was one of the worst in recent memory with respect to the amount of snow. As the snow melted, there was excessive flooding in areas like Minot and Bismarck. Wells that were shut in are just beginning to come back on line. The third quarter should allow these companies to catch up on backlog.

I covered some of the Bakken players in here. Hess (NYSE:HES) reported a significant increase in production at the beginning of the third quarter. At the beginning of July, production was 34000 Boepd as opposed to the average production of 25000 Boepd for the entire first half of this year. On July 19, Whiting (NYSE:WLL) broke its Williston Basin production record with 58000 gross and 31161 Boepd. Continental (NYSE:CLR) estimated July production of 61000 Boepd, but more important was its increased EURs to 603000 Boe from 518000 Boe with respect to its North Dakota wells. EOG Resources (NYSE:EOG) announced a very good well result in its Stateline project, reinforcing the viability of wells near and around the North Dakota and Montana stateline. Newfield (NYSE:NFX) announced an IP rate of 5200 Boepd on a short lateral. Although this well is still listed as confidential, it shows initial production rates will continue to improve in the Bakken. Denbury (NYSE:DNR) announced its second quarter production increased 33% over the first quarter of this year. SM Energy (NYSE:SM) announced all of its well shut-ins will be online in the beginning of the third quarter. This was in addition to several other earnings announcements, reminding that several of the Bakken oil companies are playing catch up and will complete this backlog soon. Kodiak (NYSE:KOG) announced two very good well results that could have EURs in the 750000 Boe to 850000 Boe range. Kodiak had oil and gas sales growth of 261%. Kodiak had a very good quarter beating EPS estimates and had additional earnings from gains on mark to market derivatives written down in the first quarter. Kodiak has been beaten up since the US debt downgrade was announced. It currently trades around $5 and shares look attractive to $6/share.

Brigham had a very good second quarter. After hours, Brigham traded up 6%. The street was looking for an EPS of 31 cents/share, and Brigham produced 60 cents. 27 cents of earnings were mark to market derivative gains. Revenue came in line at $91.3 million. Brigham raised its production outlook and had some very good wells on the Montana side of the border. The big story is its ability to keep costs under control. It announced about 70% of the remaining 2011 wells will be drilled on Smart Pads. Zipper fracs are more important as pressure pumping prices have skyrocketed. This technology allows for decreased pressure pumping usage. Brigham is also using frac sleeves that could eliminate wireline work needed in initial stages. Even with flooding in the second quarter, Brigham brought on line to production a record 21 gross wells. In my opinion this was a very good quarter. Brigham faced substantial head winds and still beat EPS estimates.

Oasis' (NYSE:OAS) quarter was not as impressive. This is the second quarter in a row that has not met expectations. Total production decreased by 2% quarter over quarter. It realized better differentials with comparison to WTI for the quarter. Oasis also had difficulty with expenses. Lease operating expenses increased by 6% quarter over quarter. Interest expenses increased $1.6 million quarter over quarter. It also had a deferred tax liability of $29.9 million. Oasis had net income of $33.3 million or 36 cents per share. This included a $31.7 million unrealized gain of derivative instruments. Even with current cost pressures, Oasis increased its 2011 capex program by $137 million. Only $86 million will be used on drilling and completion. Oasis will use $24 million on starting Oasis well services, which will provide pressure pumping. It states pressure pumping is 60% of completion costs, and believes it will be less expensive to build a pressure pumping business. Much of the remaining capital will go to pay for increased costs. In summary, this quarter couldn't have been timed worse. With difficult economic conditions, Oasis could have an uphill battle selling this quarter to investors.

Resolute (NYSE:REN) had a good quarter. Although this company has interests in other areas than the Bakken, it did drill three wells and achieved meaningful production. Resolute had second quarter net income of $25.7 million and an EPS of 37 cents/share. This included unrealized gains on derivative instruments of $27 million. Resolute had revenues of $59.9 million. The street's estimates were an EPS of 12 cents on revenues of $56.29. Its Bakken properties added 18000 Boe of production in the second quarter of 2011. Resolute has a JV with GeoResources (NASDAQ:GEOI) in the Bakken. It stated a harsh winter, wet spring and early summer all created difficulties. Resolute completed four wells, drilled a fifth and started a sixth. This was a good quarter for Resolute, but I would not jump into this name until some of the market difficulties are resolved.

GeoResources had a decent quarter after underachieving. I hope this small cap value play will continue to impress. GeoResources is a play on both the Bakken and Eagle Ford. Just a note on its Eagle Ford wells as two of the three completed were good with the last disappointing a little. Still not bad for the quarter in this acreage. Of its first four Bakken wells, the first three had decent production with the fourth not as good. GeoResources continues to add rigs to this play as it continues to increase completions. The street estimated EPS of 28 cents on revenues of $27.79 million. Revenue for the second quarter was $30.88 million with an EPS of 34 cents. GeoResources seems to be working both its Bakken and Eagle Ford acreages well.

US Energy Corp. (NASDAQ:USEG) beat revenue expectations in the second quarter. It produced revenues of $8.1 million versus the street's estimate of $5.9 million. USEG missed earnings with a loss of 8 cents per share as opposed to the street's estimated loss of 2 cents. On June 30, USEG has 7.16 net Williston Basin wells, averaging 675 Boe/d. These wells are partnered with Brigham and the results have been good. USEG has 5500 net acres in the Brigham Roughrider Program. In the Yellowstone and SE HR Programs, it has one net well to be completed in the third quarter. USEG also participated with Murex Petroleum Corporation in two wells. USEG's well program with Brigham has been quite good, but I would hold off here. There are better companies in this space to invest.

In summary, the Bakken has had significant flooding in the second quarter. This problem has been difficult for some companies, while others like Brigham hit estimates. This sector has been beaten up, but I think there is more to go. That said, some of these stocks are really cheap and it may not be a bad idea to start a small position and cost average in. Keep in mind this downturn could continue for some time creating significant losses.

Disclosure: I am long BEXP, KOG.