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Energy Summary for Dec. 19, 2018

2018-12-19 20:29 ET - Market Summary

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by Stockwatch Business Reporter

West Texas Intermediate crude for January delivery added 96 cents to $47.20 on the New York Merc, while Brent for February added 98 cents to $57.24 (all figures in this para U.S.). Western Canadian Select traded at a discount of $16.60 to WTI, down from a discount of $16. Natural gas for January lost 11 cents to $3.73. The TSX energy index lost a fraction to close at 136.43.

Alberta- and Saskatchewan-focused Whitecap Resources Inc. (WCP) added 18 cents to $4.04 on 9.36 million shares, regaining some of the 28 cents it lost yesterday after releasing its guidance for 2019. It is aiming to spend $425-million to $475-million and produce 70,000 to 72,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day. By comparison, its production target for 2018 is 74,000 to 75,000 barrels a day, meaning the 2019 guidance represents a decrease of around 5 per cent.

The decrease is in part because Whitecap is taking a different approach to 2019 compared with other years. In the past, it has tended to spend most heavily in the first half of the year, favouring the first quarter. In 2019, however, it plans to be "cautious and defensive" in the first half, during which time it will spend less than one-third of the budget. Then about half of the budget will be spent in the third quarter. This should boost fourth quarter production to 78,000 barrels a day, but because this increase will occur so late in the year, the average full-year guidance looks relatively low, as president and chief executive officer Grant Fagerheim explained in a conference call yesterday. He said the advantage of the new approach is that Whitecap: (a) will be able to focus on debt repayment in the first half of 2019 (it plans to repay $74-million); and (b) will have time to wait for hoped-for improvements in oil prices, for example as a result of the mandatory production cuts recently announced by the Alberta government.

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