A ‘buy’ recommendation from stockbroker Mirabaud Securities comes with an upgraded 50p price target (up from 33p), suggesting nearly 200% upside to the explorer’s current price of 17.5p.
Mirabaud analyst James Midgley described Providence’s new deal with Chinese partner APEC as “a major step” closer to the commercialization of Barryroe - a 350mln barrel field that’s barely being valued at its AIM share price.
Current price barely prices in cash ‘n’carry
“Still, at today’s share price Providence trades only marginally above the value of its net cash, plus capex carry (totalling c.14p/shr),” Midgley said in a note.
“Accordingly, we consider the company to be in an almost unique position, offering deep value but with a clear roadmap to commercialisation, and further upside in the way of multi-billion barrel exploration alongside Major oil companies.”
Midgley highlighted that the new 50p per share target still represents a 50% discount to the broker’s core net asset valuation for Barryroe - in other words, the broker’s core valuation actually prices the firm at around 100p.
Beyond the core valuation, which focuses primarily on Barryroe, the analyst's total asset valuation also includes 40p of what’s described as “heavily risked” value for the Dunquin South and Newgrange prospects, located in Ireland’s Atlantic Margin, off the west coast.
For the market’s more speculative punters, it is probably worth noting that on an un-risked basis Midgley values the Barryroe stake at 152p while Dunquin South and Newgrange are ascribed values of 193p and 282p respectively. Mirabaud’s total, un-risked valuation sees the company worth 631.2p.
Providence, meanwhile, retains a material acreage position in the west coast frontier from which further exploration possibilities may be unearthed.
Yet more upside for Providence?
“At under 20p per share, Providence shares are clearly trading at a substantial discount to where we consider fair value,” the analyst said.
“While we expect the shares to trend towards the 100-140p per share mark, realistically we consider this a medium-term objective.
“Accordingly, for now, we are recommending a near-term 50p per share target price, on the basis that we will reconsider as we approach the start of next year’s (Q2) drilling campaign.
“We would add that this target price offers nothing for Providence’s exploration position, which we consider one of the most prospective in the sector. Any progress in readying prospects for drilling could see the share price, and our target price, upgraded accordingly.
Putting Barryroe on the path to production
September’s binding partnership deal with APEC detailed a path to production, starting with an appraisal programme beginning next year.
APEC then has an option to extend the programme, to add a further two horizontal wells.
In the current quarter, operations are being advanced to survey the proposed well sites.
Rig mobilisation will begin in the second quarter of 2019 thus setting in motion a programme that, if successful, Barryroe will become Ireland’s first commercial offshore oil project.
Providence and Lansdowne’s share of the programme costs are to be covered by a non-recourse funding facility, whereby Chinese funds will be provided and later returned through accelerated repayment (basically, the partner will receive a larger share of the early revenues).
Post-appraisal development funding will be in focus
“The firm appraisal programme is expected to take some 200 days excluding testing, meaning that by early 2020, the partners should have gathered sufficient data to make a final investment decision and lodge a field development plan,” Mirabaud’s Midgley said.
He added: “assuming the horizontal well options are exercised, three wells will be already be drilled awaiting tie-in, meaning the bulk of the initial capex requirement will be on facilities (e.g. subsea manifolds - note we assume that the FPSO will be leased), which we estimate will cost in the region of US$250-500m (gross).
“With Providence retaining a 40% stake in the field, its share of upfront development capex would be just US$100-200m.”
According to Midgely, Providence will have a number of options open to it - including reserves based lending, an extension of the APEC financing arrangements, or a further farm-down of Barryroe project equity.
Providence is plainly on the cusp of a very active and catalyst rich period.
Based on the present share price plus Mirabaud’s target and valuation there’s, evidently, the potential for a great deal of upside available for investors.
All eyes will be on next year’s drilling.