No oil discovery narrative appears to have captured investor attention this year as much as Reconnaissance Africa’s (TSXV:RECO, OTC:RECAF) acquisition of the rights to Namibia’s giant, 6.3-million-acre Kavango Basin, which was followed in short order by two confirmations of an active petroleum system.
It’s captured our attention for several reasons; not the least of which is that onshore discoveries are pretty much a thing of the past, except in the final frontier of Africa, where Namibia—which has never produced a barrel in its history—is anxiously awaiting the possibility of its day in the energy spotlight.
It’s also captured our attention because this is a junior explorer who is sitting on what we think is a supermajor-size basin, and it’s fully-funded for its current 3-test well drill campaign.
But in recent weeks, our attention has been drawn by reports of surprise early results—twice. And now, there is a lot to potentially look forward to in the coming days and weeks.
On Monday last week, ReconAfrica announced that it had completed its second drill at its 6-1 stratigraphic test well. In a matter of days, we are expecting the results from that drill.
Expectations are high because not only did RECO show indications of an active petroleum system in its first test-well drill (6-2), but it also showed over 200 meters (over 660 feet) of oil and natural gas indicators over three discrete intervals in a stacked sequence of reservoir and source rock.
Expectations are also high because only part way into the second drill (6-1), in the shallow section, RECO again provided clear evidence of an active petroleum system, with 134 meters (440 feet) of light oil and gas shows.
Now, RECO is launching 2D seismic, and soon to release full drill results from (6-2)—the well that’s already delivered positive results in the shallow sections.
Everything Lines Up in RECO’s Favor
Everything appears to be lining up in RECO’s favor, from day one when they took the giant leap of faith to acquire the rights to this huge basin in Namibia, and then to add another huge section of the same basin in Botswana. That gave them a total of 8.5 million acres.
A huge boost of confidence came first from Bill Cathey, an industry recognized geologist for the biggest oil companies in the world, who performed the magnetic survey interpretation for RECO. Cathey came out saying that, “Nowhere in the world is there a sedimentary basin this deep that does not produce hydrocarbons.”
Then came Daniel Jarvie, a leading geochemist and source rock expert who is now all-in on RECO (TSXV:RECO, OTC:RECAF) … Jarvie estimated, conservatively, that the basin has generated billions of barrels of oil and gas. He liked what he saw—a lot—so joined the RECO team.
The company reports it has full government support—local and national, and has been helping Namibia from the start, from drilling water wells for Kavango residents who have limited access to potable water, to helping to fund the country’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
Short-Selling Desperation May Have Hit Fever Pitch
So, now, with two confirmations of an active petroleum system under its belt, new results expected just days away, 2D seismic having launched… we think those who have taken on enormous short positions against RECO are thoroughly desperate.
That desperation may have led to organized media campaigns against the company, in what we think is an attempt to bring the stock down enough to give them time to cover their shorts before there is no longer any way to stop the march forward in Namibia. (You can read more about short and distort campaigns and the lengths short sellers will go to here on Seeking Alpha.)
No one can know what will happen next, but in our view there are enough breadcrumbs to follow in the latest press releases:
One of the most important breadcrumbs comes in the latest press release from Monday, which tells us that both test wells, 6-2 and 6-1, will have a VSP (vertical seismic profile tool) run through them, connecting them along the same seismic line. And later this month, the company says casing will be run and cemented to isolate the prospective hydrocarbon bearing zones.
Investors who have no background in geology might now be able to interpret this clearly, but for us, the most important breadcrumb is this: ReconAfrica would never fund the complex operation of running a VSP to tie these two wells together along the same seismic line if there wasn’t a potential for something big there—in both wells.
There are many catalysts here that stand to make the coming days very interesting for investors:
Now that the second drill has been completed, RECO (TSXV:RECO, OTC:RECAF) reports it is making multiple logging runs and that up to 50 sidewall cores will be taken to maximize potential hydrocarbon recovery. Once that is complete, the VSP is run as part of the 2D seismic program.
RECO (with its partner NAMCOR, the state oil company) received approval from the Namibian government on July 7th for seismic and will begin acquisition of the initial 450 km 2D seismic program across the Kavango basin any day. That will last for approx. 6-8 weeks.
There are so many things we expect news releases on in the coming days and weeks:
Results from the second test well
Results from the 450km 2D seismic
The launch of the third test well drill, most likely after the seismic acquisition
And hopefully some potential JV farmout deals with the majors, who will no doubt be watching like hawks for the next lab and 2D results—and that could be one of the most exciting things for investors
Furthermore, we think there is reason to be excited about 2D seismic results. So does Polaris, Canada’s oldest seismic company contracted to do it:
Polaris COO, Joe Little stated, “The acquisition plan is progressing very well for a successful recording launch in mid July. Given our past success with the environmentally friendly Explorer 860 source units on past projects in Africa and given the very high resolution parameters designed by ReconAfrica’s seismic team, we anticipate getting excellent data results on the project.”
What has made an organized misinformation campaign so hard to manage on the part of short sellers is the fact that RECO isn’t a fly-by-night junior explorer and a lot of RECO’s online followers appear to be very well informed and are keeping fellow investors up to date, which for a short and distort campaign is a problem as they need uninformed investors for their strategies to work:
It’s difficult for us to second-guess results and operations when some of the biggest names in the industry are involved, including the likes of giant Schlumberger, and Polaris. None of the companies involved in this operation would be willing to associate themselves with a fraudulent oil exploration play. And we think short sellers are having a hard time covering because RECO (TSXV:RECO, OTC:RECAF) has done everything by the book, with some of the best in the industry. There may be no other way to approach a basin of this size. This is not another Canadian micro-cap plopping itself down on a random piece of Alberta and pretending to drill while taking investor money. This is the big time, and it could end up being our last big onshore oil discovery—ever.
The next time you read a story like this, it will probably be in the deep waters, where no junior company can travel alone. Oil narratives like this are potentially once-in-a-lifetime, and that’s precisely what may have short sellers so worried. They may have ended up on the wrong side of exploration history.
Other oil companies worth keeping an eye on:
Schlumberger (NYSE:SLB) is the world’s largest oilfield services company. The Schlumberger family of companies operates between 120 countries and employs more than 100,000 people. They provide a wide range of exploration, production, drilling and processing services to their customers to help them find and produce hydrocarbons more efficiently from underground reservoirs. Schlumberger has been around for almost 90 years now with its first customer being Shell in 1928.
Schlumberger is transforming itself to survive and thrive in an oilfield a fraction of the size it was only a few years ago. The emphasis is shifting from throwing big chunks of iron and a schoolyard full people at a project to minimizing capital intensity of operations through the digital PSO transformation we have discussed here. The digitalization of the global oilfield will prove to be very sticky and begin to deliver subscription-type returns to both companies.
SLB is ahead of the rest of the oilfield pack with their New Energy Genvia venture, which aims to produce carbon free blue hydrogen through a hydrogen-production technology venture in partnership with the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), and with Vinci Construction. This new venture will accelerate the development and first industrial deployment of the CEA high-temperature reversible solid oxide electrolyzer (SOE) technology.
Baker Hughes (NYSE:BKR) is one of the world’s leading providers of oil and gas field services, with operations in over 80 countries worldwide. They provide a wide range of products and services to upstream companies around the globe including drilling fluids, artificial lift systems, completion tools, coiled tubing techniques and equipment for use in deepwater environments. Baker Hughes has an extensive history as a pioneer in developing new technology which has led to many innovations that have helped shape the industry.
Baker Hughes is committed to helping our customers succeed by providing them with state-of-the-art technologies such as those that are designed to improve well productivity while lowering environmental impact through sustainable solutions.
Like many of its peers, Baker Hughes has also faced mounting pressure to join the green revolution. And it’s risen to the call-to-arms. Surprisingly, however, it wasn’t investor pressure that got Baker Hughes into the hydrogen boon. In fact, it’s been in the game for well over half a century. It built its first hydrogen compressor in 1962, and hasn’t stopped since.
Because it’s still primarily an oil field service company, however, Baker Hughes has had its share of ups and downs over the past year, but the $27 billion industry giant still remains a smart buy for long-term investors. Not only has it shown that it can adapt to the times, but it also pays dividends!
ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) a multinational energy corporation with headquarters in Houston, Texas, has been around since 1905. The company is active in the exploration and production of crude oil and natural gas. ConocoPhillips operates its own resources as well as those of others through ventures, joint operations and production sharing agreements. They also have a downstream business focused on refining and marketing products like gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel and other petrochemical-based products that are derived from crude oil refining processes.
ConocoPhillips, as the largest pure upstream company, has performed relatively well in this depressed market, generating ample free cash flow and returning a good chunk of it to shareholders. Unlike many of its peers who continued to expand aggressively during the shale boom, COP has taken several steps to lower costs and fortify its balance sheet.
Thanks to a global recovery in demand, Conoco has seen an increasingly bullish look on the industry, and it was one of the few companies which did not partake in the mass-layoffs seen in the industry last year. In addition, Conoco has also seen a fairly decent about of insiders buying into its stock, which is a good sign.
Chevron (NYSE:CVX) is an American multinational energy corporation, and one of the world’s largest oil companies. They have operations in more than 180 countries, with headquarters located in San Ramon, California. Chevron has many different brands that are marketed to consumers all over the world. Chevron’s primary areas of business are exploration and production of crude oil and natural gas, manufacturing and marketing petroleum products, transportation fuels supply chain logistics services, power generation solutions including renewable energy technologies like geothermal power plants. The company also operates one of the world’s largest marine fueling systems with locations across six continents.
Chevron is also betting big on Africa, particularly Nigeria and Angola. The supermajor ranks among the top oil producers in the two African nations. Other areas on the continent where the company holds interests include Benin, Ghana, the Republic of Congo and Togo. Chevron also holds a 36.7 percent interest in the West African Gas Pipeline Company Limited, which supplies Nigerian natural gas to customers in the region.
In the last few decades, ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) has been one of the most successful multinational corporations in America. This is due to a number of factors, including their ability to innovate and adapt. However, with climate change becoming an increasingly pressing issue for our world, it’s unclear how much longer this company will be able to thrive.
ExxonMobil isn’t ignoring the reality of the market, however. It has made major moves in its commitment to reduce its emissions. It claims to have about one-fifth of the world’s total carbon capture capacity. The company captures about 7 million tons per year of carbon.
ExxonMobil is also big in its commitment to reduce its emissions. It claims to have about one-fifth of the world’s total carbon capture capacity. The company captures about 7 million tons per year of carbon. This has been in place since 1970, and the company claims to have captured more CO2 than any other company — more than 40 percent of cumulative CO2 captured.
The company, Enbridge Inc.(NYSE:ENB, TSX:ENB), is a Canadian multinational energy company. Founded in 1949 by the World War II veterans Kenneth W. Dam and Arnold R. Parry, it has since grown to be one of North America’s largest pipeline companies with over 2 million miles of pipelines across Canada and the United States. They also provide services for gas transmission, natural gas storage, distribution as well as power generation and electricity retailing. They have more than 150 years combined experience in developing energy infrastructure that provides Canadians with affordable energy that they can rely on to heat their homes during long winter months or cool them down during hot summer days.
Enbridge is in a unique position as oil and gas stages its 2021 comeback. As one of the more potentially undervalued companies in the sector, it could be set to win big this year. But that’s only if it can overcome some of the challenges in its path. Most specifically, its Line 3 project which has faced scrutiny from environmentalists.
Canadian Natural Resources (NYSE:CNQ, TSX:CNQ) is one of the biggest names in the Canadian energy sector with operations spanning across North America and Western Europe. The company has been around since 2010 but has had roots dating back to 1952 when Panarctic Oils was founded by Harold Lothrop, Kenneth Lothrop (Harold’s father), and two other partners.
Like Enbridge, Canadian Natural Resources has struggled through the pandemic, but the companyhas been able to do what many of its Canadian counterparts haven’t been able to, keep its dividend intact after swinging to a loss for the first half of the COVID pandemic, while Canada’s producers are scaling back production by around 1 million bpd amid low oil prices and demand. Though Canadian Natural Resources kept its dividend, it withdrew its production guidance for 2020, however. It also said it would curtail some production at high-cost conventional projects in North America and oil sands operations and carry out planned turnaround activities at oil sands projects in the second half of 2021.
Suncor Energy (NYSE:SU, TSX:SU) is an energy company that has a strong focus on sustainability. They work hard to ensure their products are safe, reliable, and sustainable. With the industry changing so rapidly in recent years- being able to keep up with change is key for success. Suncor has always been a leader in this area of innovation and it will continue forward as such- keeping all stakeholders happy!
Suncor is a Canadian oil and gas company that has been in business for over 75 years. They are one of the largest producers of crude oil, synthetic crude oil, natural gas liquids (NGLs), and petrochemicals in Canada. Suncor’s operations include exploration and production from more than 100 fields located across Alberta, Canada, as well as refining and marketing activities in North America.
Finally, now that oil prices are finally on the rise once again, giants like Suncor looking to capitalize. While many of the oil majors have given up on oil sands production – those who focus on technological advancements in the area have a great long-term outlook. And that upside is further amplified by the fact that it is currently looking particularly under-valued compared to its peers, especially as lithium, which is present in Canada’s oil sands, becomes an even more desirable commodity.
TC Energy Corporation (TSX:TRP) is a Calgary-based energy giant. The company owns and operates energy infrastructure throughout North America. TC Energy is one of the continent’s largest providers of gas storage and owns and has interests in approximately 11,800 megawatts of power generation. It’s also one of the continent’s most important pipeline operators. With TC Energy’s massive influence throughout North America, it is no wonder that the company is among one of Canada’s strongest and well-known companies.
Like a number of its peers, one of TC Energy’s biggest challenges in recent years was grappling with the particularly difficult approval process for its Keystone Pipeline. But that’s all history now, and with the bounce back in oil and gas demand, TC Energy could stand to benefit. While TC Energy’s stock price has yet to recover from pre-pandemic levels, it is one of the few industry giants which has managed to keep high dividends rolling in.
Westshore Terminals (TSX:WTE) is a coal export terminal located at Roberts Bank Superport in Delta British Columbia. It is Canada’s largest coal export facility, surpassing the combined coal shipments of all other terminals in Canada. The company exports thermal and metallurgical coals to markets around the world, including Japan, South Korea, China, India and Taiwan. Westshore also offers services to ship various bulk cargoes through its marine facilities. Westshore Terminals has been operating for over 30 years and employs more than 240 employees that work 24/7 shifts to ensure continuous operation. Despite its success and longevity, however, is increasingly being targeted by short sellers.
Short sellers are looking at companies like Westshore Terminals based on a simple fact: they’re in the coal business. While the fossil fuel industry isn’t quite down for the count just yet, coal is seeing a major decline that isn’t likely to slow anytime soon. And without a significant pivot, Westshore’s days could be numbered.
Great-West Lifeco (TSX:GWO) continues to be a popular stock among short sellers on the TSX. This North American and European financial services holding company has seen its shares drop 8.9% year over year yet it still attracts interest from investors globally due to its healthy balance sheet, strong cash flows, and more.
Is the short interest justified? Their record as dividend payers is very strong: Great West has been paying out an average annualized return on investment (ROI) for stockholders since 1948 that currently sits just below 7%. It also offers a quarterly dividend yield with dividends paid every three months which equals about 6%, or more than five times what most people can expect to earn through investing in savings accounts today. This could emerge as a huge incentive to fight off the short sellers and keep the stock afloat for many loyal investors.
Pembina Pipeline Corp. (TSX:PPL) is a company that has been around for more than 50 years and was the first pipeline company in Canada to offer gas transmission services. They are now one of the largest natural gas transmission companies in North America with an annual throughput capacity of almost 66 billion cubic feet per day.
Pembina Pipeline Corporation is a Canadian energy infrastructure business that provides products such as natural gas, oil, renewable power, and chemicals to customers primarily located on the eastern coast of North America from its operations in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec.
MEG Energy Corp (TSX:MEG) is a Canadian energy company that provides natural gas and renewable power products and services to customers in Canada, the United States, Europe, and Asia. The company operates in three segments: Pipeline Services; Power Generation Services; Renewable Power Production. MEG has been able to grow their pipeline business by engaging with key stakeholders on regulatory fronts across North America as well as through expansion of their existing pipeline network.
The company’s large proven resources and their cutting-edge technology make MEG a promising company for investors looking to get in to the promising oil sands in Alberta.
By. James Stafford
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Forward-Looking Statements. Statements contained in this document that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements that involve various risks and uncertainty affecting the business of Recon. All estimates and statements with respect to Recon’s operations, its plans and projections, size of potential oil reserves, comparisons to other oil producing fields, oil prices, recoverable oil, production targets, production and other operating costs and likelihood of oil recoverability are forward-looking statements under applicable securities laws and necessarily involve risks and uncertainties including, without limitation: risks associated with oil and gas exploration, including drilling and other exploration activities, timing of reports, development, exploitation and production, geological risks, marketing and transportation, availability of adequate funding, volatility of commodity prices, imprecision of reserve and resource estimates, environmental risks, competition from other producers, government regulation, dates of commencement of production and changes in the regulatory and taxation environment. Actual results may vary materially from the information provided in this document, and there is no representation that the actual results realized in the future will be the same in whole or in part as those presented herein. Other factors that could cause actual results to differ from those contained in the forward-looking statements are also set forth in filings that Recon and its technical analysts have made. We undertake no obligation, except as otherwise required by law, to update these forward-looking statements except as required by law.
Exploration for hydrocarbons is a highly speculative venture necessarily involving substantial risk. Recon’s future success will depend on its ability to develop its current properties and on its ability to discover resources that are capable of commercial production. However, there is no assurance that Recon’s future exploration and development efforts will result in the discovery or development of commercial accumulations of oil and natural gas. In addition, even if hydrocarbons are discovered, the costs of extracting and delivering the hydrocarbons to market and variations in the market price may render uneconomic any discovered deposit. Geological conditions are variable and unpredictable. Even if production is commenced from a well, the quantity of hydrocarbons produced inevitably will decline over time, and production may be adversely affected or may have to be terminated altogether if Recon encounters unforeseen geological conditions. Adverse climatic conditions at such properties may also hinder Recon’s ability to carry on exploration or production activities continuously throughout any given year.
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