Falcon Oil & Gas the next Ultra Petroleum? --
This is a great article on Falcon Oil. The Falcon CEO was the original CEO of Ultra. I purchased my first position mid January and doubled my position today. It's got a hefty market cap for a company that is not gushing gas yet...but obviously many are betting that they have found a very nice gas field.....
Recent press release full of good news:http://www.falconoilandgas.com/releases/03-23-06.htm
An Interview with Allan Laird,
VP, Engineering and Director of Falcon Oil & Gas:
March 27, 2006
Pescod and Laird – Reunited!
The first time we got together,
the company turned out to be worth $9 billion.
Let’s see if we can focus and do something a little bigger
this time, Dave, shall we?
Dave Pescod: Why are you in Hungary? What are your projects,
what are your assets?
Allan Laird: This project resulted from a world-wide search of
over 16 different countries led by a gentleman named John Gustavson.
The search was high-graded and the list was narrowed
down and we finally came down to Hungary as what we felt was
the optimum place on the Earth to find gas. As of 2004, Hungary
became a full member of the EU, which brought political and
economic stability. We consider that to be very important as you
have ready-access to plants, pipelines, a market in Europe that is
anxious and interested in developing more domestic gas supply.
So all these factors, deregulated gas prices along with a reasonable
royalty structure, a reasonable corporate income tax, etc.,
all the economic factors are very positive in Hungary. We think
it’s a great place to search for gas. Then you couple that with
the tremendous geological potential of the Basin Centered Gas
Accumulation (BCGA) in the Mako Trough that is supported by
Dr. Ben Law. Ben of course is famous in the world of BCGA’s
because he was the guy who predicted the Pinedale Anticline all
the way back in 1982. He has worked for, I believe, over 28 years
for the U.S. Geological Survey. He has written close to a couple
of hundred technical papers and in my opinion, Ben is the number
one authority in the world on this sort of gas basin. So along
with all the other political and economic factors that we believe
are so favorable, Ben believes that we have is a tremendously
large target and that is why we are in Hungary.
Dave Pescod: How big is the field? What is the size of this target?
Allan Laird: Falcon has a 100% working interest in two concessions
that total about 576,000 acres, which is 900 sections. Or to
put it into perspective, it is 25 townships. By anyone’s standards, this is a very large land position. Our Falcon
website and the SEDAR website can lead you to the external,
third-party numbers. But we have also presented some internal numbers
from Ben Law, who is now a consultant for Falcon Oil & Gas, so
you really must consider his comments as internal company numbers.
Of our total of 900 sections, Ben has identified 205 of them that
he considers highly prospective. We have two key zones – the Szolnok
(the upper zone) and the Endrod (the lower zone). Ben is estimating
that in the Szolnok zone alone, the Potential Gas Resource in
Place is 700 BCF per section. Now Dave, you would probably say
that is an incredible number and of course it is. But to take you back
nine years to the early days when you and I first met in the Green
River Basin in Wyoming, back then we would contour maps with
maybe 100 to 200 or 300 BCF a section. So while it is comparable,
the Hungarian BCGA actually appears to be thicker and cover a
greater area than the Wyoming BCGA.
But there is another important factor to consider, as below the
Szolnok, you have that other key formation called the Endrod. And
you will see in our securities exchange filings that the third party
engineers and geological consultants actually believe that the Endrod
might even be better than the Szolnok. Ben Law estimates that
there is another 60–70 TCF of potential gas in the Endrod resource.
So to keep the math simple, let’s call it 140 TCF plus 60 TCF equals
200 TCF. Ben has further gone on record in several recent public
presentations saying that based on the drilling results so far in our
first two wells, he would now increase that estimate by 30%. So the
bottom line is that a very credible expert has identified a target which has the potential to become a world class gas field.
D.P: Can you put that in perspective versus Ultra Petroleum?
A.L: Sure and of course, when I speak of Wyoming and the Pinedale
Anticline, I am talking about the founding days when I worked for
Ultra Petroleum’s original Chairman and CEO Marc Bruner, which is
interesting because today, the same Marc Bruner is now the Chairman,
President and CEO of Falcon. Currently, Ultra is booking 6.3
TCF of proved plus probable reserves through their third party engineers and they have a market cap of about $9 billion.
D.P: This is amazing though, when you compare that to hopes of
Hungary having a 100 TCF.
A.L: Yes, but when you talk a potential resource of greater than 200
TCF in place, of course you have to apply a recovery factor to that.
You might say 20%, I might say 50% and Ultra I believe now, is pushing
up into the 80% range with continual infill drilling. If you take the
lower end of the range as 20% of 200 TCF, you still are talking of a
possibility of 40 TCF. Ultra is a very, very successful company with
about 6 TCF so you can see that the dream that we are chasing at
Falcon is something much bigger.
The difference with Ultra is that we have proved that it would
work. We went out and drilled and completed and tested wells
and years later, you can see that our initial predictions were very
accurate. Today, although Falcon has made some good progress,
it is important to realize that we have not yet proven that
our project will work through production testing. Falcon sits at a
market cap of about $1 billion, so the stock market appears to
believe that we will end up with less than 1 TCF. As an insider,
you can see that I haven’t sold any stock yet so I guess you
know that I believe that the bulk of the Falcon story is yet to be
D.P: OK, very high risk with a big potential reward. What about
the men and equipment to get it done?
A.L: I try never to correct you Dave, but I have to say that sometimes you have given me too much credit at Falcon. Our company
is much more than just Marc Bruner and Allan Laird. Along
with Ben Law, our geological team is led by Dr. James Edwards,
our VP Exploration, who made some world class discoveries
with Triton. Dr. George Szabo is the Managing Director of our
Hungarian subsidiary and he is not only the former CEO of MOL,
the state oil company, he is a wonderful technical resource and a
true gentleman. We also have Gary Lavold as Project Manager, a
former Husky/Nova guy that is great at plants and pipelines.
Lyle Nelson is our Drilling and Operations Manager, with experience
in Iraq and Mongolia. We’re lucky to have Evan Wasoff as
CFO and Tony Lotito as VP Corporate Finance, because this is a
capital intensive project. So what we really have is a large team
of talented people, where many of us have worked with Marc
before and now follow his leadership into this play. As for the
other soldiers in the army, Marc has already secured Halliburton
and a lot of our key guys in our Hungarian office are contracted
to us through Halliburton. I always remember that one of the
keys to success in the Pinedale Anticline was the partnership
with Halliburton, so I’m happy to see them helping us again.
D.P: How is the financing going?
A.L: As a Canadian, I am proud that not only did Canadians
originally fund Ultra, but the first money we raised for Falcon
was about $50 million on the Toronto Venture Exchange back in
April 2005. We followed that with a second, heavily oversubscribed
offering for $100 million this month, with strong participation
from Toronto, but now also great new investors from New
York and London. We’ve also announced a letter of intent with
the Macquarie Bank and are now working with them to finalize a
$250 million line of credit. Dave, one of the things that made
Ultra not as fun as it could have been in the early years is that we
were always under-funded and it forced certain decisions upon
At Falcon, you can see that Marc has taken that experience and in
less than one year, Falcon is a financially strong company with
about $100 million in the bank and he is working on another ¼
billion dollars of support for the project.
D.P: Progress to date, timing, etc.
A.L: In our recent news release, we commented on our first three
wells. The first well at P-1 was drilled on a nice 3-D structure from
seismic that we liked, but it was a 45 km step-out. I think that a lot
of people expected us to drill a dry hole. So the fact that we had
hit both the Szolnok and Endrod formations was very positive and
the sands look nice and thick. We also conservatively announced
that we saw moderate to good porosity. Now in a BCGA, you expect
to make your money from low porosity rocks so you can basically
read between the lines and say, we found something better
than what we thought we were drilling for. So it’s good news.
The data shows that it is over-pressured, saturated with gas, and
the logs show no signs of moveable water. So I’m really looking
forward to completing and testing this well later this summer. The
second well was a deep one at Mako-6 that is programmed to go
to 6000 meters. A well this deep is a four month drilling project.
What’s really neat is that we just announced that we’ve already
drilled through over 900 meters of the Szolnok formation. Now
remember, the Szolnok is the one that Ben Law likes the best -
and 900 meters is a lot of rock… heck, call it a kilometer! We also
announced that we believe that about 60% of that is sand, which
looks good. Since we’re still drilling in the Szolnok, I expect that
900 meter number to go up. So it’s all very positive and interesting
and exciting. If 60% of that 900 meters is good, then you
would have over 500 meters of sands that we would want to complete
and test. That is significantly thicker than other basins I’ve
worked on and we still haven’t drilled completely through the first
or even into the second of the two target formations.
I expect the Mako-6 well to resume drilling and reach total depth
(TD) by about the end of April. Also, our third well at the S-1 location is progressing very well and it too, looks like to will reach TD by the end of April. With three wells down, you should then expect us to spend some months designing the completions, awarding
the work, mobilizing the completion and testing equipment,
etc. This work will likely take us through the spring and with any
luck, I expect to begin the production testing in June 2006. The
drilling program should also continue and we expect to have
drilled at least five wells this year.
Dave, as always, it’s been fun talking with you. I appreciate the
opportunity to tell the Falcon story and thank you and your readers
for your interest and support.