CALGARY, ALBERTA – Whitecap Resources Inc. ("Whitecap" or the "Company") (TSX: WCP) is pleased to announce a 26% increase to our monthly dividend as we expect to reach our $1.3 billion net debt1 milestone on or before September 30, 2023. We are also pleased to advise that we have signed a CO2 supply contract extension for volumes delivered to the Weyburn Unit CO2 enhanced oil recovery project ("Weyburn Project") and have released our 2023 Environmental, Social and Governance ("ESG") Report.
Upon closing of the XTO acquisition on August 31, 2022, we had established net debt targets of $1.8 billion and $1.3 billion. On achieving these targets, we committed to increasing our dividend to $0.58 per share and $0.73 per share (annualized), respectively. In January 2023, we achieved our first net debt milestone of $1.8 billion and increased our monthly dividend to $0.0483 per share. We now expect to achieve our $1.3 billion net debt milestone on or before September 30, 2023, and our Board of Directors has approved a 26% increase to our monthly dividend to $0.0608 per share, effective with the October 2023 dividend, payable in November 2023. This equates to an annual dividend of $0.73 per share, up from $0.36 per share prior to the XTO acquisition.
Since September 2022, we have reduced our net debt by approximately $900 million and returned over $400 million to shareholders through dividends plus share buybacks.
Our net debt target of $1.3 billion is important to us as it represents a Debt/EBITDA ratio2 of 1.0x at our stress tested commodity price assumptions of US$50/bbl WTI and $3.00/GJ AECO and is currently 0.6x at current strip prices. It is also an important milestone for our shareholders as we will now return 75% of free funds flow1 back to shareholders. Capital returns to shareholders will be comprised of the increased annual dividend of $0.73 per share and will be supplemented with share buybacks and/or special dividends. Given the variability in our quarterly capital programs due to spring break up, we plan to update progress and measurement of these returns on a semi-annual basis. With consideration of our total proven net asset value3 and the permanent improvement to our capital structure, our current preference is share repurchases over special dividends. We continue to be opportunistic on our share repurchases and target larger block trades when available.
Whitecap is in a very healthy position with our strong balance sheet and a balanced portfolio of high-quality drilling opportunities. Our East Division (~90,000 boe/d) generates significant operating free funds flow1 through its low decline and high netback assets, and our West Division (~70,000 boe/d), with our Montney and Duvernay assets, provides us with a large resource base, significant reserves and inventory for decades of sustainable per share growth.
As operator and 65.3% working interest owner of the Weyburn Project, we have signed a CO2 purchase and sale extension agreement to December 31, 2034 with SaskPower for the purchase of CO2 that is captured at the Boundary Dam Power Station, Unit 3 in Estevan, Saskatchewan. The Weyburn Project has safely sequestered over 40 million tonnes of CO2 since first receiving captured CO2 emissions. This project demonstrates the commitment that the Saskatchewan Government continues to provide leadership on, moving the province to a lower carbon economy while providing long term reliable and affordable power to its constituents.
The Weyburn Project has world-class attributes that provide significant benefits to Whitecap as well as many different stakeholder groups:
· Acquisition Payout. The Weyburn Project currently produces approximately 15,000 boe/d4 (net to Whitecap) of 30-degree API crude oil and generates an annual operating netback1 of over $200 million at US$75/bbl WTI. By the end of 2023, we forecast that the asset will have generated over $800 million of cumulative operating free funds flow to Whitecap, leading to a forecasted full payout1 of the $940 million purchase price in 2024 at current strip prices5 which is less than 7 years after acquiring the asset.
· Long Life Reserves. A reliable source of CO2 supply is integral to the Weyburn Project maintaining a decline rate of below 5% as well as increasing the recovery factor of an asset that was first discovered in the early 1950's. To date, the asset has recovered over 500 million barrels of oil, with our year-end 2022 independent reserve evaluation3 indicating the asset is expected to produce for the next 50 years and recover a total of over 700 million barrels of oil. By utilizing CO2 to enhance the recovery factor of the Weyburn oil pool, we are minimizing the surface impact required to replace production declines of a product that continues to see an increase in global demand.
· Carbon Sequestration. Since first injection in the year 2000, the Weyburn project has safely sequestered over 40 million tonnes of CO2. Our internal modelling suggests that the ultimate CO2 storage capacity of this partially depleted oil reservoir is 115 million tonnes, which at our current injection rate of approximately 2 million tonnes per year, provides for over 35 more years of CO2 injection capability.
· Project Benefits. The Weyburn Project provides significant economic benefits to the Province of Saskatchewan with a direct impact of 120 jobs and annual economic benefits of approximately $350 million6. Whitecap is proud to be associated with a project that has led the way for carbon capture, utilization and storage ("CCUS") projects, and we expect that knowledge gained from this project will provide significant benefits to future CCUS projects both in Canada and around the world.
Whitecap has released our 2023 ESG report which can be found on our website at www.wcap.ca/sustainability/esg-report. Our 2022 results, discussion of objectives and commitments, and performance against our established targets are all provided in this full comprehensive report. Whitecap is proud of our recent accomplishments and will continue to advance our ESG performance in the years to come.
On behalf of our employees, management team and Board of Directors, we would like to thank our shareholders for their support and look forward to the remainder of 2023 and beyond.
1 Net debt is a capital management measure. Full payout and operating free funds flow are supplementary financial measures. Operating netback and free funds flow are non-GAAP financial measures. Refer to the Specified Financial Measures section in this press release for additional disclosure and assumptions.
2 Debt to EBITDA ratio is a specified financial measure that is calculated in accordance with the financial covenants in our credit agreement.
3 Refer to the Oil and Gas Advisories section for additional disclosure regarding how we calculate net asset value and for reserves information.
4 Disclosure of production on a per boe basis in this press release consists of the constituent product types and their respective quantities disclosed herein. Refer to Barrel of Oil Equivalency and Production & Product Type Information in this press release for additional disclosure.
5 Based on the following strip commodity pricing and exchange rate assumptions for Sep-Dec 2023: US$80.62/bbl WTI, $2.93/GJ AECO, USD/CAD of $1.35.
6 Gross capital expenditures prior to CO2 purchases plus operating expenses and royalties.
For further information:
Grant Fagerheim, President & CEO
Thanh Kang, Senior Vice President & CFO
Refer to full press release for forward-looking statements and advisories.