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VSA CAPITAL MARKET MOVERS - Colombus Energy Resources

VSA CAPITAL MARKET MOVERS - Colombus Energy Resources

VSA Morning Flow Test, 09/01/19

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Columbus Energy Resources (LON:CERP)

Columbus Energy Resources (CERP LN) reported Q4 2018 production averaging 670bopd resulting in full year average production of 615bopd in 2018 which was up 67% YoY and ahead of our full year estimate of 600bopd despite the impact of severe weather and record rainfall in Q4 2018. Quarterly production was 9% lower QoQ as moving workover rigs and routine operations were prevented by flooding which made roads impassable in Trinidad. Gross revenues of US$3.23m were down 16% QoQ owing to lower production and lower oil prices which averaged 5% lower QoQ at US$57.58/bbl.

That said, CERP achieved its year end target of 1,000bopd with peak production of 1,021bopd in the quarter. This included the initial production from the Snowcap 1 & 2 wells which achieved 70bopd after three years of shut in status. CERP had guided to an expected 100bfpd with part of the appraisal intended to assess the volumes of water production. After a successful appraisal we now expect pumped production to commence at Cory Moruga. We expect CERP production to bounce back from the impact of severe weather in Q1 2019 and workovers are continuing to progress across the operating fields, indeed the second pilot injection well at Goudron is ready for conversion to water injection in Q1 2019. CERP has guided that average production is likely to remain within the recent peak level in the near term which is line with our current expectations.
This unseasonably severe weather does in fact demonstrate clearly the importance of CERP’s acquisitions through 2018, at attractive valuations, which have diversified the operating base to six operating fields. With a reduced reliance on Goudron the company is better placed to withstand one-off shocks such as this while the investment made in operating infrastructure such as backup generators has meant that production was able to continue despite a temporary loss of grid power. Indeed, despite the reduction in output CERP continued to generate positive operational cashflow from its Trinidad operations of US$0.37m (US$0.54m in Q3 2018) which is a strong positive, in our view, and a clear demonstration of the company’s capital discipline and more robust asset base.
Cash at year end 2018 of US$2.6m (£1.7m) was broadly in line with our estimate of £1.5m while gross debt was further reduced to US$0.4m. This includes the net impact of the £2.5m fundraise in Q4 and repayment of the US$1.25m loan associated with the Steeldrum acquisition. This leaves CERP well placed to continue the optimisation of the six operating fields as well as make preparations for the major catalyst for the shares in 2019; exploration of the SWP. Based on our forecasts, CERP is fully funded for planned operations and drilling at SWP represents a potentially transformational event for the company given the estimated prospective resources of 1.3Bboe.

In addition, CERP is the operator of the Innis Trinity field and the current work programme is funded by Predator Oil and Gas (PRD LN) through a farm in agreement. Workovers in the quarter continued to make progress although CO2 injection has not yet commenced with the submission of the Certificate of Environmental Compliance completed in Q4 2018.

Recent share price performance has been soft and while we believe a combination of broad-based equity market volatility and a reduction in WTI oil prices have exacerbated the weakness the progress that management has made operationally and financially was not fairly reflected in the share price performance in 2018. A 67% YoY increase in production is an impressive and significant achievement and we expect continued progress in 2019. Although this was lower than originally anticipated at the start of the year and legacy costs associated with Spain have hampered financial performance we continue to forecast a reduction in the net loss from £5m to £3.4m in 2018 and a return to profit in 2019 demonstrating that the operational improvements are having a meaningful and tangible positive impact on the group financials.  We believe that at the current share price CERP’s production potential, exploration upside and capital discipline is simply not reflected and continue to see significant upside potential.

We reiterate our Buy recommendation and 21.4p target price.




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