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Pacific Rubiales Provides operational update to close out its 2012 exploration and development activities

TORONTO, Dec. 13, 2012 /PRNewswire/ - Pacific Rubiales Energy Corp. (TSX: PRE; BVC: PREC; BOVESPA: PREB) today provided an update on its 2012 operations and exploration activities.

In summary, production is up sharply in the current quarter to date, the Company expects to meet its year-end exit production targets and has grown its production in 2012 despite the unexpected permit delays affecting all oil and gas producers in Colombia.  Exploration activity continues with nine wells planned to be drilled or spud in the fourth quarter.  2012 represents an important transformational year for the Company, accomplished through a number of strategic acquisitions designed to position the portfolio for long-term growth and add value to the existing business.

The Company expects to release its 2013 Outlook and Guidance forecast during the second week in January 2013; 2012 year-end reserves and resource reports in late February; and 2012 year-end financial results after market close on March 13, 2013.

Ronald Pantin, Chief Executive Officer of Pacific Rubiales, commented:

"I am thrilled by this year's progress, in all aspects of the Company.  Despite a challenging first eight months of the year during which our production growth was constrained by environmental and development permit delays outside of our control, I am very pleased by our subsequent strong production growth.

"The Company's production in the fourth quarter to date has averaged 269 Mboe/d total gross field or 107 Mboe/d net after royalty, and production has risen in all of the Company's major oil producing fields.  This past week we achieved a new production record milestone of 282 Mboe/d total gross field (approximately 111 Mboe/d net after royalty).  Much of this production growth has been driven by the Rubiales field which is currently producing in excess of 200 Mbbl/d total gross field (approximately 68 Mbbl/d net after royalty).  At Quifa SW, production is just under 50 Mbbl/d total gross field (approximately 23 Mbbl/d net after royalty).  Production is currently 3 Mbbl/d (approximately 1.7 Mbbl/d net after royalty) at the Cajua field, the new commercial field in the Quifa North area, and is expected to reach a range of 4 to 5 Mbbl/d total gross field production by year-end.

"With this production performance in place we feel very comfortable in achieving a year-end exit production of between 280 to 285 Mboe/d total gross field or approximately 112 to 114 Mboe/d net after royalty (excluding any volumes from the C&C Energia Ltd. acquisition).

"During 2012 we have transitioned the Company's portfolio through strategic acquisitions, to secure and setup long-term growth and add value to the existing business.  This activity has been aimed at acquiring low cost reserves that provide immediate value and cash-flow accretive production in the near-term, as well as expanding our exploration resources to drive growth looking out beyond three to five years.

"As an example, the Block Z-1 acquisition in the shallow water offshore Peru brings low cost oil reserve additions, immediate production volumes that we can grow over the next two years through low-risk development, and complements our extensive onshore exploration portfolio in the country.  With the recent delivery and placement of the new 24 drill slot CX-15 production platform on the block's Corvina oil field, development drilling is expected to commence during the next few weeks, progress through next year and contribute significant production growth in 2013. A newly completed comprehensive 3D seismic program on the block delineates multiple prospects and large exploration resources in a proven oil prone hydrocarbon basin, which will be tested by exploration drilling over the next several years.  At the current time, Pacific Rubiales expects the Block Z-1 acquisition to close by year-end 2012. The acquisition is effective from the beginning of the current year (January 1, 2012).

"The Company's acquisition of PetroMagdalena Energy Corp. and the pending acquisition of C&C Energia adds medium to light oil production and reserves which will be used as a source of diluent for our growing heavy oil production in the Llanos basin.  The Company's integrated light oil diluent / heavy oil production, along with its growing ownership in pipelines and transportation infrastructure, captures a significant incremental value margin on the direct ownership of the light oil, versus the cost of purchasing diluent volumes.

Current production from the PetroMagdalenga assets is approximately 4.5 Mboe/d net after royalty, which has approximately doubled since the acquisition closed on July 27, 2012.  Production from the C&C Energia assets is currently approximately 10 Mbbl/d net after royalty oil, and is expected to grow from a more aggressive development of existing prospects in 2013.  The Company is targeting a year-end 2012 closing of the C&C Energia transaction.

"Four additional exploration acreage acquisitions were made during 2012: 1) the increased equity investment in CGX Energy Inc., which holds an interest in deep water properties in offshore Guyana, 2) the Triceratops and PPL-237 onshore Papua New Guinea foothills play, 3) the Portofino heavy oil exploration block in the Caguan-Putumayo basin onshore Colombia, and 4) the Karoon blocks in the medium depth offshore Brazil Santos basin; should all be viewed in the context of early stage large resource capture for the future, in basins and jurisdictions which offer a balance of above- and below-ground risk.

"We view all of the exploration acquisitions as providing opportunities in world class hydrocarbon basins with the potential for hosting very large resources. In the case of offshore Guyana, a basin with analogous geology to west Africa and Brazil that have produced giant oil discoveries; in the case of Papua New Guinea, large natural gas and condensate resources sitting on the doorstep of the world's fastest growing primary energy markets; in the case of the Portofino block, complementary acreage along the strategic Colombia heavy oil belt and adjacent to the developing Capella oil field; and in the case of the offshore Karoon blocks, the Company's first activity in Brazil and a strategic entry into the country's prolific Santos basin. This is a similar strategy that led to the Company's successful "first-mover", large resource capture and rapidly rising production along the heavy oil resource belt in Colombia.

"Each of our 2012 acquisitions completed thus far have been funded by cash on-hand, associated exploration and development capital is expected to be funded by internally generated cash flow, and leverages the "built-in" onshore/offshore and frontier basin expertise and capacity acquired by the Company from its technical and managerial origins. They illustrate the Company's capacity and vision to look out beyond the short and medium term, layering in opportunities to support, enhance and develop new growth prospects into the future.

"Also, this has been a year where the lessons learnt in 2011 about relations with community, our workers, and our other stakeholders, bore fruit.  We are now widely recognized as a preferred partner and as a leader in fostering sustainable relations within the social and economic realm in which we operate.

"Closing out 2012, I want to take the time to express my special thanks to each of the Company's employees and in-house contractors for their hard work during the year.  The Company's Balance Sheet remains strong, and our growth targets in the medium term remain intact underpinned by our extensive low cost heavy oil exploration and development assets in Colombia. We will continue our strategy of repeatable, profitable growth by building for the long-term future, the leading E&P Company focused in Latin America."

Exploration Update

The Company expects to drill approximately 58 exploration wells (including stratigraphic and appraisal wells) during the current year 2012.  This includes nine wells during the fourth quarter, with approximately four of these (wells on the Colombian CPO-1, SSJN-9 and Guama blocks, and the Brazil Karoon blocks) are expected to drill over year-end and complete their drilling operations in early 2013.

One well on the Cubiro block in Colombia has been completed as a successful oil well discovery, four wells are being drilled currently, with another four expected to be spud prior to year-end.  Exploration drilling success as a result of the 49 wells drilled during the first nine months of the year averaged 84%.  A complete schedule of the 2012 exploration well program is provided below:

2012 Exploration Well Schedule
Block Number of
Wells
1Q 2Q 3Q 4Q
  Quifa  20 7 9 4  
  Sabanero(1) 20 7 10 2 1
  Arrendajo 1     1  
  CPE-6  2 2      
  CPO-12  3       3
  Cubiro 1       1
  CPO-1  1       1
  CPE-1  4 1 3    
  Brazil(2) 1        1
  Portofino(3) 1     1  
  La Creciente  1 1      
  SSJN-9(1)  1       1
  Guama  2 1     1
  Total 58 19 22 8 9

 

(1) The Company holds a 49.999% participation in Maurel et Prom Colombia BV which holds 100% of the Sabanero block, and 50% of the SSJN‐9 block.
(2) The Company has a 35% net working interest in the Karoon blocks.
(3) The Company holds a 40% participating interest in the Portofino block owned by Canacol Energy Ltd.


Seven exploration wells originally planned for drilling in the fourth quarter 2012 have been postponed into 2013, including one well on the Arrendajo block, three wells on the CPE-6 block, two wells on the Portofino block and the block 138 exploration well in Peru.

During the fourth quarter, the Petirrojo Sur-1 exploration well was drilled in the central Llanos Cubiro block, encountering 15 feet of net pay in the Tertiary aged Carbonera C7A and C7B reservoirs and completed as a flowing oil well.  Production has stabilized at approximately 185 bbl/d light oil (40 API degree) with a 50% water cut.  The relatively high water cut is thought to be due to casing cement integrity issues and will be subject to a remedial workover in early 2013.  The Company has various working interests (averaging 61%) in the Cubiro block, added through the PetroMagdalena acquisition.  Although a relatively small discovery, it illustrates the value the Company is extracting from these assets through accelerated drilling.

The Kangaroo-1 exploration well, the first of two commitment wells and one option well resulting from a 35% farm-in on the Karoon blocks offshore Santos basin Brazil, is expected to be spud during the last week of December.  The well is located within the S-M-1101 and S-M-1165 blocks, about 280 kilometers off the coast of the State of São Paulo, in water depths of approximately 400 meters, and has multiple targets in the Eocene, Miocene and late Cretaceous aged sections.  The well will be drilled using the Blackford Dolphin semi-submersible drill rig, which was mobilized to the drill site this week, and is expected to take about 40 to 60 days to drill.

The Santos basin has recently yielded multiple oil discoveries and is becoming an exciting area for exploration.  The Kangaroo-1 well has a gross mean prospective resource of 272 MMbbl oil certified by DeGolyer MacNaughton.  As announced this week by the operator, Karoon Gas Australia Ltd, the expiry date on the farm-in blocks has been extended 180 days to November 2013, allowing for completion of the planned drilling program.

Projects Update

The Company is actively engaged in a number of significant production, experimental pilot, midstream and facility infrastructure projects aimed at improving efficiency, achieving cost reductions and increasing production and recoveries from its major producing oil fields in Colombia.  These projects are critical to its ongoing business development and value creation for shareholders.  Major projects of note include:

Small Scale LNG Project:  The Company has initiated a small scale liquefied natural gas ("LNG") project that will be developed jointly with Exmar NV ("Exmar"), an experienced LNG transportation and regasification company based in Belgium. The project is aimed at supplying LNG for power generation in Central America and the Caribbean, currently supplied by diesel.  The project comprises a planned 88 km, 18 inch gas pipeline to be built from the Company's La Creciente gas field to Tolú (Colombian Atlantic Coast, 15 km north east from Coveñas), and a Floating, Liquefying, Regasification and Storage Unit ("FLRSU") connected to a Floating Storage Unit ("FSU") allowing FOB exports to standard carriers (145,000 CBM).

The Company will supply approximately 70 MMcf/d gas to the FLRSU under a 15 year tolling agreement with Exmar, starting in late 2014. Construction of the barge mounted FLRSU facility is underway in mainland China, environmental permitting for the onshore portion of the gas pipeline has been granted while environmental licenses for the 3.5 km offshore pipeline and port concessions are in progress. The LNG project will lead to a doubling of the Company's natural gas production on start-up in late 2014, accelerating existing reserves production and encouraging exploration resource drilling.  Wellhead netbacks are expected to be higher than the current $6 - $7 per Mcf received in the domestic sales market.

STAR (Synchronized Thermal Additional Recovery) Pilot Project:  The STAR pilot project is aimed at increasing the recovery in the Company's heavy oil fields in Colombia in the future. The technology was initially tested and designed under laboratory conditions during 2009 and 2010. The pilot project facilities were constructed at Quifa SW in 2011 with start-up under primary cold flow conditions initiated in early 2012.

Two key tests were conducted during 2012.  A steam test was performed to determine the response of the reservoir to thermal process and a nitrogen test was conducted to create a minimum gas saturation in the wellbore in order to facilitate the upcoming air injection. Both tests indicated positive response from the reservoir.  Equipment and injector wellbore failure caused by an unexpected backflow along with the subsequent requirement to construct additional production, safety and auxiliary systems, have resulted in delays in the pilot project.  A second steam injection phase for cleanup and pre-heating has been initiated and start-up of the air injection thermal phase is now expected late this month or early 2013.

Petroeléctrica de los Llanos ("PEL") - Power Transmission Line Project: PEL is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Company, responsible for constructing and operating a new 260 km, 230 kilovolt power transmission line connecting the Rubiales and Quifa fields with Colombia's electrical grid. The line includes two substations to supply power to the booster stations of the ODL pipeline, as well as substations in the Rubiales and Quifa fields.

Construction on the power line started in May 2012 and is expected to be completed by the third quarter of 2013.  The new power line will supply less expensive hydroelectrical power used in the operation of the Rubiales and Quifa fields, replacing volumes of more expensive fuel oil and diesel, leading to a reduction in unit operating costs.

Puerto Bahia Oil Export Terminal and Port Facility:  This project consists of a new oil export terminal and port facility which are being constructed near Cartagena on the Colombia Caribbean coast.  Phase one of the project consists of a 130 km, 30 inch oil pipeline with a capacity of 300,000 bbl/d running from Coveñas to Cartagena, three one-million barrel oil storage tanks, and a deep water berth with loading space for two tankers.

The Company has taken a 49% interest in Pacific Infrastructure Inc., a private company financing, designing, constructing and operating the facility estimated to cost between $700 - $900 million, and be in operation by late 2014.  The new export terminal is crucial to the Company's plans to increase its Colombia heavy oil production and exports during the next four years by addressing the current infrastructure constaints at the existing Coveñas export terminal, which leads to frequent inventory overhangs.

Rubiales - Quifa Water Irrigation Project:  This project is aimed at expanding and increasing the water disposal capacity at the Rubiales and Quifa fields using reverse osmosis technology to purify produced field water and then directing the resulting water output to water irrigation rather than disposing by reinjection.  The first of two, 500 Mbbl/d capacity reverse osmosis plants will be delivered to the field in mid-2013, with a second expected to be operational at the end of the year.  Additional plants will be installed post-2013 to handle increasing water production expected from both fields.

Approximately 50 thousand hectares of African palm and eucalyptus trees will be planted as part of the irrigation project, creating a new sustainable "green project" and is expected to result in a reduction in incremental unit costs associated with water disposal produced from the two fields.

Bicentenario Pipeline Project:  The Company has a 32.88% equity interest in "Bicentenario", a special purpose vehicle responsible for the financing, design, construction and operation of Colombia's newest oil pipeline transportation system, which will run from Araguaney, in the west central Llanos basin to the Coveñas export terminal on the Colombia Caribbean coast.

In four phases, the Bicentenario pipeline will add 450,000 bbl/d of additional capacity to the existing pipeline systems, connecting the south Llanos Basin to export markets. Phase one with 120,000 bbl/d capacity currently under construction, consists of a 230 km, 42 inch pipeline from Araguaney to Banadía connecting with the existing Caño Limon oil pipeline, two 600,000 bbl capacity storage tanks at Coveñas and is expected to start pumping operations during the second quarter of 2013. When operational in 2013 the Bicentenario pipeline is expected to ship approximately 30% of the Company's heavy oil production currently transported by truck at a significant savings from current trucking costs.

Carmentea - Araguaney Pipeline and Diluent Mixing Station Project:  This new project involves an extension of the existing pipeline and construction of a new 85 km, 36 inch diameter pipeline with the capacity to eventually transport up to 460,000 bbl/d between Cusiana (connecting with the Company's ODL pipeline and the OCENSA pipeline) and the Bicentenario pipeline at Araguaney. The basic engineering for the pipeline is completed, detailed engineering started and the purchase of pipe is expected to be initiated by year-end 2012. Environmental permits are pending.

A new diluent mixing facility is currently being constructed at the Cusiana station junction with the ODL and OCENSA pipelines, with startup expected in early 2013.  The facilities will allow greater efficiencies in custom diluent mixing required for oil volumes shipped on the OCENSA (Castilla blend) and Bicentenario (Vasconia blend) pipelines, as well as elimination of the costs associated with trucking diluent an additional 250 km to the existing Rubiales field mixing facility.  On the start-up of the new Cusiana diluent facility, the ODL pipeline will start shipping heated undiluted heavy oil from Rubiales/Quifa to the new mixing facilities.

Environmental Permits Update

During 2012, Pacific Rubiales experienced delays related to the regulatory permitting process affecting its Colombia operations (principally the Rubiales field), but the Company is actively working in cooperation with Industry partners engaged with government agencies to expedite the process and has seen improvements, which are encouraging.  In the case of Pacific Rubiales, it is important to recognize that this year's delay in the licensing only represents a delay in development, rather than a loss of production.

In mid-August, we received the environmental license to inject an incremental 400 thousand barrels per day of produced water at the Rubiales field.  We have environmental permits pending for an additional one million barrels per day water injection at the Rubiales/Quifa fields expected in early 2013.

In early November, the Company received the environmental permit allowing the start of exploration drilling on the CPO-12 block to the north and contiguous to the CPE-6 Hamaca prospect, and the CPO-1 block in the central Llanos basin. The drilling of four planned exploration wells has commenced on the CPO-12 block, and an exploration well is planned to spud on block CPO-1 prior to year-end.

On the other hand, we are still waiting on the blanket environmental license for the CPE-6 E&P block which we require in order to advance exploration drilling, extended well testing and field development of the oil discoveries and prospects we have identified on this strategic block, situated approximately 70 km southwest of the Rubiales/Quifa fields.

Other significant environmental permits pending include an amendment submitted in June 2012 which will allow exploration to commence in the prospective northeastern portion of the Quifa North exploration block.

Despite pipeline transportation disruptions affecting the O&G Industry in Colombia during 2012, resulting in a drop in the country's total oil production, Pacific Rubiales was able to both grow and deliver all of its oil production without any disruptions. This illustrates the strategic importance and value of the proactive investments the Company has made in midstream infrastructure.

Pacific Rubiales, a Canadian-based company and producer of natural gas and heavy crude oil, owns 100 percent of Meta Petroleum Corp., a Colombian oil operator which operates the Rubiales, Piriri and Quifa oil fields in the Llanos Basin in association with Ecopetrol, S.A., the Colombian national oil company, and 100 percent of Pacific Stratus Energy Corp. which operates the La Creciente natural gas field, and light oil assets from the recent acquisition of PetroMagdalena Energy Corp.

The Company's common shares trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange and La Bolsa de Valores de Colombia and as Brazilian Depositary Receipts on Brazil's Bolsa de Valores Mercadorias e Futuros under the ticker symbols PRE, PREC, and PREB, respectively.

Advisories

Cautionary Note Concerning Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements. All statements, other than statements of historical fact, that address activities, events or developments that the Company believes, expects or anticipates will or may occur in the future (including, without limitation, statements regarding estimates and/or assumptions in respect of production, revenue, cash flow and costs, reserve and resource estimates, potential resources and reserves and the Company's exploration and development plans and objectives) are forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements reflect the current expectations or beliefs of the Company based on information currently available to the Company. Forward-looking statements are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that may cause the actual results of the Company to differ materially from those discussed in the forward-looking statements, and even if such actual results are realized or substantially realized, there can be no assurance that they will have the expected consequences to, or effects on, the Company. Factors that could cause actual results or events to differ materially from current expectations include, among other things: uncertainty of estimates of capital and operating costs, production estimates and estimated economic return; the possibility that actual circumstances will differ from the estimates and assumptions; failure to establish estimated resources or reserves; fluctuations in petroleum prices and currency exchange rates; inflation; changes in equity markets; political developments in Colombia, Guatemala or Peru; changes to regulations affecting the Company's activities; uncertainties relating to the availability and costs of financing needed in the future; the uncertainties involved in interpreting drilling results and other geological data; and the other risks disclosed under the heading "Risk Factors" and elsewhere in the Company's annual information form dated March 14, 2012 filed on SEDAR at www.sedar.com. Any forward-looking statement speaks only as of the date on which it is made and, except as may be required by applicable securities laws, the company disclaims any intent or obligation to update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or results or otherwise. Although the Company believes that the assumptions inherent in the forward-looking statements are reasonable, forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and accordingly undue reliance should not be put on such statements due to the inherent uncertainty therein.

In addition, reported production levels may not be reflective of sustainable production rates and future production rates may differ materially from the production rates reflected in this press release due to, among other factors, difficulties or interruptions encountered during the production of hydrocarbons.

Average Daily Oil Production - Block Z-1 Peru

Peru production referenced in the news release corresponds to the 49% deemed participating share of production attributable to the Company from Block Z-1 for the period January 1 through to the present, pursuant to a Stock Purchase Agreement ("SPA") signed on April 27, 2012 between the Company and BPZ Resources, Inc. ("BPZ"). Under the SPA (i) at closing operating revenues and expenses will then be allocated to each partner's respective participating interest and (ii) once approvals by the relevant Peruvian authorities are granted, the Company shall receive a 49% interest in the production of hydrocarbons from the Z-1 Block. No revenue and costs have been recognized yet in the Company´s results with respect to the production from Block Z-1 as its full entitlement is subject to approval of the applicable Peruvian authorities.

Boe Conversion

Boe may be misleading, particularly if used in isolation. A boe conversion ratio of 5.7 Mcf: 1 bbl is based on an energy equivalency conversion method primarily applicable at the burner tip and does not represent a value equivalency at the wellhead. The estimated values disclosed in this news release do not represent fair market value. The estimates of reserves and future net revenue for individual properties may not reflect the same confidence level as estimates of reserves and future net revenue for all properties, due to the effects of aggregation.

Translation

This news release was prepared in the English language and susequently translated into Spanish and Portuguese. In the case of any differences between the English version and its translated counterparts, the English document should be treated as the governing version.

Definitions 

Bcf Billion cubic feet.
Bcfe Billion cubic feet of natural gas equivalent.
bbl Barrel of oil.
bbl/d Barrel of oil per day.
boe Barrel of oil equivalent. Boe's may be misleading, particularly if used in isolation.
The Colombian standard is a boe conversion ratio of 5.7 Mcf:1 bbl and is based
on an energy equivalency conversion method primarily applicable at the burner
tip and does not represent a value equivalency at the wellhead.
boe/d Barrel of oil equivalent per day.
Mbbl Thousand barrels.
Mboe Thousand barrels of oil equivalent.
MMbbl Million barrels.
MMboe Million barrels of oil equivalent.
Mcf Thousand cubic feet.
WTI West Texas Intermediate Crude Oil.

 

 

 

SOURCE Pacific Rubiales Energy Corp.

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