Ultra Petroleum Corp. (“Ultra” or the “Company”) is an independent oil and gas company engaged in the development, production, operation, exploration and acquisition of oil and natural gas properties. The Company was incorporated on November 14, 1979, under the laws of the Province of British Columbia, Canada. Ultra remains a Canadian company, but since March 2000, has operated under the laws of The Yukon Territory, Canada pursuant to Section 190 of the Business Corporations Act (Yukon Territory). The Company’s operations are primarily located in the Green River Basin of southwest Wyoming and in the north-central Pennsylvania area of the Appalachian Basin.
Oil and Gas Properties Overview
Ultra’s current operations in southwest Wyoming are focused on developing the Company’s position in a tight gas sand trend located in the Green River Basin with targets in the sands of the upper Cretaceous Lance Pool in the Pinedale and Jonah fields. The Lance Pool, as administered by the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (“WOGCC”), includes sands of both the Lance (found at subsurface depths of approximately 8,000 to 12,000 feet) and Mesaverde (found at subsurface depths of approximately 12,000 to 14,000 feet) in the Pinedale and Jonah fields area of Sublette County, Wyoming. As of December 31, 2009, Ultra owned interests in approximately 112,000 gross (56,000 net) acres in Wyoming covering approximately 190 square miles.
Ultra’s current operations in north-central Pennsylvania are focused on exploring, developing and expanding its position in the Marcellus Shale and deeper horizons. At December 31, 2009, the Company owned interests in approximately 326,000 gross (169,000 net) acres in Pennsylvania.
Ultra’s mission is to profitably grow an upstream oil and gas company for the long-term benefit of its shareholders. Ultra’s strategy includes building a robust portfolio of high return investment opportunities, maintaining a disciplined approach to capital investment, maximizing earnings and cash flows by controlling costs and maintaining financial flexibility.
High Return Portfolio. Ultra maintains a portfolio of properties that provide long-term growth through development in areas that support sustainable, lower-risk, repeatable, high return drilling projects. The Company continually evaluates opportunities for the acquisition, exploration and development of additional oil and natural gas properties that afford risk-adjusted returns in excess of or equal to its current set of investment alternatives.
Disciplined Capital Investment. The Company’s business strategy involves the regular review of its investment opportunities in order to optimize return to its shareholders. Over the past ten years, Ultra has consistently delivered meaningful reserve and production growth while providing significant returns to its shareholders. In 2009, oil and natural gas production increased 24% over 2008 levels and estimated proved reserves increased 11% to 3.9 Tcfe from 3.5 Tcfe with return on capital employed of 18% and return on equity of 32%.
Low Cost Producer. Ultra strives to maintain one of the lowest cost structures in the industry in terms of both adding and producing oil and natural gas reserves. The Company continues to focus on improving its drilling and production results through the use of advanced technologies and detailed technical analysis of its properties.
Financial Flexibility. Preserving financial flexibility and a strong balance sheet are also strategic to Ultra’s business philosophy. At December 31, 2009, the Company had cash on hand of $14.3 million and outstanding debt was $795.0 million. Consistent with this strategy and subsequent to year-end 2009, the Company issued $500.0 million of senior notes at an average interest rate of 5.46% and a weighted average term of 10.6 years. As a result of the issuance, the availability under the Company’s revolving credit facility increased to approximately $335.0 million and the debt maturity profile lengthened to over eight years due to adding tranches of 12 and 15 year debt while the Company’s weighted average cost of debt remains at approximately 5.5%.
Green River Basin, Wyoming
During 2009, the Company participated in the drilling of 222 wells in Wyoming and continued to improve its drilling and completion efficiency on its operated wells as measured by spud to total depth. During 2009, the average drilling days decreased 17% from 2008 levels to 20 days from spud to total depth. In addition, the Company’s average well cost decreased from $5.5 million per well during 2008 to $5.0 million during 2009, increasing both the present value and rate of return on these wells. This 9% reduction in costs is a direct result of fewer drilling days, fewer rig moves associated with pad drilling and lower cost of services. These cost reductions were accomplished while simultaneously drilling deeper wells and completing more frac stages per well.
During 2010, the Company plans to continue its ongoing development program of its acreage position in the tight gas sand trend in the Green River Basin in southwest Wyoming. The Company expects that wells drilled during 2010 will target the sands of the upper Cretaceous Lance Pool in the Pinedale and Jonah fields.
Additionally, the Company plans to continue its assessment of increased density drilling to more efficiently recover the vast resources present in the area. Currently, essentially all of the Pinedale field is approved by the WOGCC for 16 wells per 160-acre government quarter section (10-acre equivalent). Pilot activities are planned to continue in 2010 in areas approved for testing of well density of 32 wells per 160-acre government quarter section (5-acre equivalent). Current spacing in the Jonah field is eight wells per 80-acre drilling and spacing unit (10-acre spacing) with several pilots testing spacing at 16 wells per 80-acre drilling and spacing unit (5-acre spacing).
All of the Company’s drilling activity is conducted utilizing its extensive integrated geological and geophysical data set. This data set is being utilized to map the potentially productive intervals, to identify areas for future extension of the Lance fairway and to identify deeper objectives which may warrant drilling.
During 2009, the Company participated in the drilling of 35 horizontal Marcellus wells and two vertical Oriskany wells. The Company also completed a 3-D seismic survey in the Marshlands area. The Company is actively leveraging its Pinedale experience by translating its Wyoming directional drilling, completion and production knowledge to the Marcellus.
During 2010, the Company plans to expand its exploration and development activities in the Middle Devonian Marcellus Shale play on its acreage position in Pennsylvania. Ultra’s current activities are located in Potter, Tioga, Bradford and Lycoming counties. Activities include lease acquisition, 3-D seismic, drilling, completion, infrastructure construction and production operations. The Company’s activities are focused in the north-central counties of Pennsylvania where the Company believes favorable Marcellus Shale properties exist for economic development.
In December 2009, the Company signed a purchase and sale agreement to acquire additional acreage in the Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale (the deep rights), strategically increasing the scale of its Marcellus position. The transaction closed on February 22, 2010 with an effective date of October 1, 2009. At the closing, the Company acquired 78,221 net acres in the deep rights, for a purchase price of $333.0 million, subject to post closing adjustments.