High-flying New World Oil & Gas described the arrival of a drilling rig at its Blue Creek prospect in Belize as 'a hugely significant milestone for the company' as it embarks on the next phase of its eye-catching growth as a company.
The shares initially rose to 12p on the news but have since fallen back to Tuesday night's closing level of 11p, giving the company a market value of just under £28m, which is not bad for a company floated in May 2011 with a market capitalisation of just £3m.
The company started life as an investment company with a focus on the oil and gas sector but is now a pukka oil and gas explorer, with so-called late-stage development prospects in Belize and Denmark.
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"Before floating we spent a full year preparing a pipeline of prospects," Chief Executive Officer Bill Kelleher told Sharecast, in an interview conducted on September 6th.
"We looked at about 70 projects globally, excluding the ex-Soviet Union," said Kelleher, the co-founder and former Managing Director of Victoria Oil and Gas, giving, perhaps, a hint of having had his fill of working in Kazakhstan and Central Asia during his time with Yukos Oil Exploration.
After a sifting process, the prospects in Belize and Denamrk ticked all the boxes for a company where the expertise is with assets not yet in production, but close to it.
The company's particular forte seems to be taking on licences which have likely looking prospects and then "de-risking" them, by identifying the best places to drill and to explore.
"Belize's sub-surface environment is a good mesh with our experience. We can apply technology and expertise to de-risk it," Kelleher explained.
"To buy operations already in production is to pay full price in a triple-digit dollar price environment," Kelleher asserted. "The entrance price is less for late stage prospects, and gives you exposure to a multiple uplift in production."
In other words, you buy a prospect where initial indications are that it has "N" barrels of oil and through seismic investigation and exploration, the probable (P50 in industry jargon, indicating a 50% certainty of hydrocarbons) reserves number gets upgraded to a multiple of "N" - sometimes a very large multiple, if you are lucky (or skillful).
The company's skill in de-risking its assets is backed up by institutional demand for its equity; the company has had three fund-raising exercises in the space of 16 months, each time with the shares being picked up at a higher price.
Notwithstanding the above, Kelleher said: "We're about finding oil; we're not about placing equity."
Of the company's prospects, Belize is further down the road towards production. Drilling will soon begin on the B Crest prospect, one of three drill-ready prospects identified on the company's flagship Blue Creek Project, located in the productive Petn Basin.
The equipment is currently being rigged up, after which it will be tested for operational capability, with drilling expected to start on or around the start of October.
The company should know for sure by the end of the year what lurks beneath the surface at Blue Creek. Drilling for oil is not an exact science, but Kelleher said the competent person's report suggests a one-in-five chance of finding commercial deposits. With seven prospects lined up, the odds appear to be on the company's side.
The company's B Crest prospect is estimated to hold a probable (P50) un-risked prospective resource of 92.1m barrels of oil, and will be the first Blue Creek prospect to be tested.
As for its prospects in Denmark, finding out for sure about them may be a year or so away.
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