Enerplus Earnings Call Insights: U.S. Gas Production and Bakken Costs

Enerplus Corp (NYSE:ERF) recently reported its first quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call.

U.S. Gas Production

Gregory Pardy – RBC Capital Markets: Just a couple of questions. I’m wondering if you could break down your first quarter U.S. gas production. Just want to get a feel for how much of that is coming from the Marcellus both operated versus the non-op? Then also just wanted to get a sense in terms of just gas volumes coming off the Bakken because I know that’s not a big number, but just wanted to understand it better? And then secondly with respect to your Bakken volumes going to the U.S. Gulf Coast is it still about a third and do you expect to sort of maintain that share because it certainly looks as though it was good for realizations in the first quarter?

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Gordon J. Kerr – President and CEO: Greg, I will take the first part of the question and then I will hand the second part over to Eric Le Dain. So, in terms of the splits, 79 million a day in the Marcellus and that was virtually all non-operated. We have very little operated activity and just it rounds to zero the operated piece. The total corporate volumes when you sort of back that out that puts about 15 million a day coming out of the West and then that’s a combination of volumes from Montana – our Sleeping Giant asset and North Dakota. And I will turn to Eric over with second part of the question.

Eric G. Le Dain – SVP, Strategic Planning, Reserves, and Marketing: Of our operated Bakken crude out of our Sleeping Giant and Fort Berthold assets roughly – and this is a very round number 8,000 barrels to 9,000 barrels a day is going to the Gulf Coast in the first quarter.

Gregory Pardy – RBC Capital Markets: Is that a number that you would see just rising proportionately as your volumes grow or..?

Eric G. Le Dain – SVP, Strategic Planning, Reserves, and Marketing: You know the dynamic in the marketplace right now. In fact, there is a good potential that what happens near term as we shift more crude back on to the pipeline as differential shift in both on the (indiscernible) side and at Clearbrook. So, we actually could see in the next month or so a little bit more going back to that kind of Mid Continent, Clearbrook area.

Bakken Costs

Cristina Lopez – Macquarie Capital Markets: With respect to costs in the North Dakota, Bakken you are looking at or running about C$1.5 million in cost savings that would equate to around C$30 million to C$35 million mark for savings through the course of the year. What are your intentions for reallocating that capital or is your – are you potentially just going to be actually running a budget that might be below what your initial guidance was?

Gordon J. Kerr – President and CEO: We are very focused on meeting our targets, Christina. So, we are sticking with that capital guidance. In terms of reallocation within that, I guess, there is a chance we could bank that money. But as we look at opportunities in our portfolio we see some pretty interesting things and we’d also like to put money into as well. So, at this point – and again, we’re talking about C$680 million budget, so there is a lot of moving pieces within that. When I look at the Bakken, I don’t see increased pace of activities there. We’ve talked about the Marcellus and we have three main non-operating partners down there. I see two of them holding the line on activity; one, maybe increasing a little bit so we’ve talked about that within Canada probably the bigger moving pieces on the operated side with the – some of the earlier stage assets the Wilrich is an example, the Montney is another example as well. And then there is always a little bit of non-opted moves around there.

Cristina Lopez – Macquarie Capital Markets: I am sorry, I may have missed this, but what are your plans for the Wilrich for the remainder of the year given the strength in the results you’ve seen so far?

Gordon J. Kerr – President and CEO: We’ve talked about drilling 2 to 5 wells. From a productivity perspective, we can hit those deliverables quite easily just by keeping the two wells we’ve drilled at ’08. If you step back for us it is really, really important to demonstrate that we can maintain this financial discipline, the efficiencies of the program are improving and we can demonstrate that to people. So, you look at the divestment plans as an example, if we’re successful in this activity, that’s going to put some money in the bank and that’s going to really give us the flexibility to start to reallocate. So is there a possibility we could put money into Wilrich as an example, absolutely, and we’re looking at that. But the timing of that is going to depend upon this continued improvement in our funding shortfall.

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Cristina Lopez – Macquarie Capital Markets: With respect to the search for a Chief Operating Officer, do you have any color around that?

Gordon J. Kerr – President and CEO: No. Let me answer it this way. We’re not looking an ex-lawyer. I think vote that the board made when they put me in charge was a very strong endorsement of the team and an endorsement that you can see in the operating results in the fourth quarter and you can see them today. So we think we’re in a pretty good place that we want to build from that. We’re very, very focused on roles and I’m really comfortable with the guys and the gal, the executive table I have around right now. So, give us some time. We’re going to work through that, but I think we’re not panic to do something to put a title up or I don’t feel a dramatic need to shake it up, I want to build from the position we have right now. Gordon (indiscernible) and he will be here till June and so we got a timetable to reconcile here. So, stay tuned.