CHAIRMANS REMARKS – AGM Thursday 13 November 2008
Ladies and gentlemen,
THE STATE OF THE ECONOMY
We find ourselves at a critical stage of Sundance Energy’s short life. The global financial crisis makes it the most challenging period since the Company was floated in April 2005. At the same time, despite the recent “savaging” of oil prices and the Australian dollar, the Company has certainly entered into an exciting phase of its development in this 2009 financial year; a time of significant opportunity.
THE YEAR TO JUNE 2008
In looking at last year’s activities, I highlight four important achievements:
first, the sale of our US Oklahoma and Montana interests to Antero Resources Corporation in December 2007 for US$44M;
second, the sale to Santos of some of our Australian tenements (ATP 661P, 820P and 636P) for A$4M;
third, the issue at A$.38 on a fully underwritten, pro rata one for seven basis, of Bonus Option Shares; this raised some A$8M of additional equity capital for the Company; and,
fourth, the satisfaction of the vast majority of the Company’s 2008 prospect development goals.
As a result of these achievements, the Company repaid all outstanding debt and was, and remains today, in a position to fully fund its busy and varied ongoing development drilling programs.
SUNDANCE ENERGY GROUP A$/US$ HEDGING STRATEGY
Following the sale of the Ashland Prospect in December 2007, the Company’s Australian to US currency hedging strategy was agreed, with a natural hedge of having funds in both currencies with approximately 50% in each. Prior to the recent dramatic drop in the A$ in September and October this year, some forward US currency purchases were completed which proved beneficial. The Company still has some funds in A$ but has no immediate requirements to buy additional US$ to fund planned US development expenditures. While commodity prices, interest rates and currency exchange rates are extremely volatile, the Company is well positioned with cash resources and a growing development revenue stream.
The global financial crisis and significant oil price volatility have affected the world generally and the oil and gas sector in particular. Despite these developments, the Company has continued its expansion in the US. Net acreage gains have been made in North Dakota, Indiana, Colorado and Oklahoma. The Company now has a total of some 76,500 net acres.
These acquisitions were complemented by a continued and active drilling program. Sundance has participated in 17 successful wells since selling the Ashland Prospect, and at least two more wells are forecast to spud prior to year end. The Company has also usefully leveraged on the expertise of partner operational companies in the US. These include widely experienced operators such as Helis Oil & Gas Company, Continental Oil & Gas, XTO, Deka Exploration Inc., and the Evertson Companies.
CREDIT AND EQUITY MARKETS
The oil and gas industry, as with others, has been faced with tough market conditions. Falling commodity prices and the tightening availability of funds, combined with significantly higher interest rates, have all presented a broad range of challenges and difficulties. Oil prices have fluctuated between highs of US$146 to under US$65 per barrel. Oil currently trades between US$60 and US$70 a barrel. Prices ahead are uncertain, although one commentator, who is close to the Australasian markets, predicts oil will be back to US$100 per barrel in 6 months time! Gas prices have also been volatile, but have a lower impact on the Company as our current revenue stream is generated by approximately 90% oil and only 10% gas. Gas prices are governed largely by the northern US winter and have ranged between US$13 and US$6 MCF with the current prices of US$6.67 MCF.
Sundance has been extraordinarily well placed because of its debt free status. This has meant we have continued with busy and productive acquisition and development activities. As a result, the Company is now nicely positioned for a successful 2009 financial year. We are already reporting increased production and higher revenues.
While this is exciting and encouraging, your Board has reviewed the year ahead and has determined to measure its near term development pace with great care, taking into account the continued turmoil and uncertainty in capital and commodity markets around the world. Prices continue to move markedly and in a volatile way, generally in a downward trend. The Australian stock market is down more than 40% from the high recorded a year ago, with many companies suffering even greater losses in the value of their shares.
It is most disappointing that the price of Sundance shares also decreased significantly over the past 12 months. In recent weeks, for the first time since floating in April 2005, our shares have traded at less than their A$.20 per float price.
“What has caused the decline in our share price?” you might ask.
Clearly the volatility and global decline in capital markets, lower oil prices, and fluctuating interest rates have all had an impact, rendering equity and debt alternatives far less attractive as funding sources. In addition, there has been an overall decline in market confidence.
We have carefully reviewed our cash, expenditure and production budgets for the financial year 2009. Our policy is to continue activities that will achieve meaningful benefits for our shareholders in the immediate to near future. In some instances, we are reviewing and slowing down our development programs, but only where there are funding, market or other constraints.
Our projections of financial commitments and revenue stream ahead show that, under our current base development plan, we will not need to raise further equity in the 2009 financial year. This is extremely reassuring in the current economic climate, and is, in important part, due to the developmental flexibility possible because of our strong, long termed portfolio of oil and gas interests, as well, of course, because of our mounting revenue growth. As we said in our last Quarterly Activities Report (as at 30 September 2008) the Company’s revenue in June this year was US$602K, as compared to US$382K in June the prior year, representing a 57% increase on a year over year basis. We are confident that this trend will continue as we move ahead.
Finally, as far as our shareholders are concerned, the recent fall in the Australian dollar should deliver benefits to the Company. The fall has a positive effect for us when we convert our US production results into our Australian reporting currency. For instance, assuming an Australian exchange rate of 68 cents to the US dollar, the yield on a barrel of oil selling at US$61 approximates A$90.
As I have said before on other occasions, it is our vision to build a successful oil and gas exploration and development company. I am confident that we remain firmly on our way to achieving that objective.
13 November 2008
Charles C A Binks