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Caza Oil & Gas Advances As It Prepares To Step Up Bone Springs Programme

Caza Oil & Gas (LON:CAZA) shares advanced over 20% on Friday after it secured vital debt funding to pay for a major phase of work over the next two years.

Apollo Investment Management has agreed to buy up to US$50mln of senior secured notes, with the first US$20mln being paid up front.

A further US$30mln may be drawn at Caza's discretion over the next 15 months.

With the injection of cash Caza can now pursue an accelerated programme to develop the Bone Springs play in New Mexico, United States.

As many as 12 wells will be drilled in 2013, with another 12 potentially being drilled next year.

Caza says this is a significant opportunity to deliver increased production, revenue growth and shareholder returns.

Investors welcomed the deal, which delivers much needed cash without diluting shareholders.

On AIM, Caza shares gained 2p or 22% to trade at 11p each. Meanwhile, the City's brokers were also buoyed by the news.

Cenkos analyst Ashley Kelty says the funding arrangement is 'hugely positive' and it should bolster investor sentiment towards the stock.

"It [the funding] has the capacity to accelerate the development of the portfolio, particularly across the prolific Bone Spring play," Kelty said in a note.

"We believe that the 2013 programme, in the event of success, will materially lift reserves and production.

"The company is now in a position to build on the substantial position established in recent months across the Bone Springs play, and further shift the production emphasis towards oil rather than gas."

He says the planned programme should go some way to bringing Caza towards profitability, as unlocking the Bone Springs play would deliver a material uplift in production.

The analyst repeated a 'buy' recommendation with a 28p target - which is almost three times current levels.

In the coming weeks investors will get a real insight into the potential of the Bone Spring programme.

Earlier this month, fracking operations began on the Lennox well - or to give it the full name: the Lennox State Unit 32 No. 2H horizontal well - and it is expected to 'flow back' in the near future.

In the drill phase the Lennox well confirmed the presence of multiple potential pay zones, in line with pre-drill expectations.

In this morning's statement Caza chief executive Mike Ford highlighted that the Lennox well is a key part of the initial programme.

"Management will begin utilizing funds for the drilling programme immediately," he said.

"The first six projects to be funded include: the Lennox test well, which is currently being completed; a second Caza Ridge well at Copperline; a test well at Gateway; a test well at West Copperline; a test well at Roja, which is currently drilling; and a test well at Madera."

Ford also told investors that Caza expects to work closely with Apollo, as the investment group has tailored the funding deal to work around the requirements of the planned work programme.

"We made significant progress in 2012, laying the groundwork for continued success in the Bone Spring play in Lea and Eddy Counties, New Mexico. However, in order to efficiently and properly advance the company's prospects and properties in the play, additional financing of proper size and scope was needed."

"By providing this facility, Apollo has shown confidence in the value of Caza's properties in the Bone Spring play.

"During our careful vetting process to find the proper financing partner, it became clear that Apollo was interested in funding Caza's drilling programme in the play, but it was their willingness to work closely with management and the board in order to tailor their financing around our specific drilling programme that made Apollo's participation attractive to the company."

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.