This is what a perfect junior looks like (V.AEC)

Keith Schaefer
0 Comments|November 20, 2013

My job is to find junior producers on the cusp of big growth—and get my subscribers in before the herd. As I scroll through dozens of companies, I’m looking for four key factors:

·         Oil weighted
·         Wells with fast payouts – basic fundamentals
·         Offer many repeatable well locations—lots of blue-sky potential
·         Low well costs

That is the cocktail of ingredients that most juniors lack. But that’s what I found with Artisan Energy Corp. (TSX: V.AEC, Stock Forum). What really grabbed me was that wells in their core play—Chip Lake, just northwest of Edmonton—should pay out in just eight months.

Anything under 24 months is considered pretty good. A year is considered top decile. I’ve only heard of one other company with all-in paybacks of eight months—Bellatrix—which has gone from $3.50 to $8.50/share this year.

And I love the fact that management and directors own 40% of the stock. As a shareholder, you want to see Insiders committed.

They’ve got two key assets that give the company the steak and the sizzle. Chip Lake is the steak. But they also have a significant land position and joint venture very near DeeThree’s Alberta Bakken play, a conventional reservoir oil pool that is so prolific, I’m amazed it wasn’t discovered 20 years ago.

But Chip Lake is the asset that every junior wants. Wells only cost $2.75 million, and should payout in just eight months.

That means you can recycle that money—and drill three wells every two years with the same cash. They also own their own infrastructure—gathering pipelines—which means they’re not at the mercy of other operators.

Chip Lake isn’t really a tight oil play, but Artisan does a short horizontal frack to capture a big royalty break. How big? The savings make the horizontal leg FREE—and get higher production!

It’s really more a conventional reservoir oil pool—what everybody drilled for before the Shale Revolution. And that means Chip Lake production has a much lower decline rate than shale or tight oil.

Tight oil wells can payback fast, but their decline rates—how fast production falls off—is so horrific, cash flow dives down quick. Tight oil wells normally have 65-70% decline rates in the first year, while Chip Lake is only 30%. So the cash flow keeps on coming.
 

Junior producers need an edge to acquire a property like Chip Lake—because everyone else in the industry is out there looking for the same thing. Artisan’s edge was that management knew the Chip Lake area inside out.

CEO Rick Ironside and COO Rick Young have had a lot of successes in this area, discovering three pools and developing a fourth with different companies—and both got sold. That is really important for me—I want to see a team that has built and sold a junior before.

They took a junior from 60 boe/d to 1,000 boe/d before selling it for $65 million. This property is still producing for Longview Oil. The other company had three pools developed at Chip Lake and sold for $340 million—Chip Lake was about a third of that company, and that property is still producing for Daylight/Sinopec.

With all that experience—and success—management went back to Chip Lake and established a good land position right next door to their Big Wins.

There’s 12 developmental horizontal drilling locations at Chip Lake in known proven pools —which should take production from 75 barrels per day to 2,000 barrels per day on this property alone—with very low capital costs. There’s another 15 high priority exploration sites they believe hold new oil pools.

It sounds just like their last ventures in the region doesn’t it?

More importantly, this is going to be very profitable production.

Each Rock Creek well costs a manageable $2.75 million with 8-9 month payout. That sure sounds like a better fit for a junior than a $15 million Duvernay well, doesn’t it?

Fast payouts, low costs and low declines. There is that perfect cocktail again.

This is the type of play that recycles cash quickly and continues to provide a steady stream of cash flow.

This is exactly the type of play that allows a junior producer to self-finance explosive growth and create shareholder value in a hurry.

With just the already discovered pool at the Chip Lake play alone should allow Artisan to take production up close to 2,000 barrels per day. Instant success, just add capital.

Applying a conservative $65,000 per flowing barrel to that 2,000 barrels of oil weighted production would imply a value of $130 million – and the cost to get there should only be $33 million.

That $130 million is more than five times Artisan’s current market capitalization – that’s a juicy steak!

Now the sizzle…

For a low risk development play, Chip Lake provides sexy numbers. But the second play has me intrigued—and surprised.

DeeThree Exploration Ltd. (TSX: T.DTX, Stock Forum) has been one of, if not THE best junior growth story in Canada for the last two years—going from $1.75 in 2012 to touching $9.94 this year—a 468% gain.

One of their two key plays is the Ferguson pool in the Alberta Bakken in southern Alberta. Since they cracked the geological code last year, results have just got better and better and the size of the pool has got bigger and bigger.

Their first well that jump started the stock in early 2012 was just over 200 bopd. Their latest eight wells had IP30s (Initial Production rate over the first 30 days) of 472 bopd. Those $4 million wells pay out in 9-10 months; again, that is stellar economics.

It’s really rare to find such a prolific conventional reservoir oil pool with such strong economics anymore. This is such a big pool, and so productive, it should have been a big red button for anyone looking for these things 25 years ago before tight oil.
  

So good for DeeThree (by the way, it was my Top Pick all through 2012). But DeeThree clearly thinks that the Ferguson pool continues to the east and also possibly that there are more Ferguson-style pools to the north. Deethree has acquired over 33,000 acres of Crown land east of the Ferguson discovery in 2013. 

They also acquired almost 10,000 acres of Crown land to the north of Ferguson, saying they think they have TWO new oil prospects up there. In the map above, the Street believes that the lands in red are DeeThree’s lands, and Artisan’s land is highlighted in yellow. I put a circle around DeeThree’s Ferguson pool and its likely eastern extension.

Artisan recently drilled a vertical test well on its 100% land that’s two miles from Deethree’s most eastern well and got 12 metres of oil bearing Banff / Bakken sand – this is the thickest pay-zone in the Ferguson pool to date that is known to the Street. Artisan hopes to follow-up this test with a short horizontal well early in 2014.

Now I want you to look north on that map—see that red block of 15 squares—again, DeeThree lands—in the northwest portion of the map? Deethree obviously thinks there is another pool up there as well. And Artisan has both 100% land and a large JV area—100 sections—just east of this Deethree exploration package. IF another Ferguson-style pool is there, Artisan shareholders are laughing all the way to the bank – this would provide a drilling inventory of many years and plenty of upside for a junior.

As a 30% partner in the 100 section JV, Artisan only has to spend 30 cent dollars to test this northern Alberta Bakken play—that’s prudent. However they also already have a decent amount of 100% owned lands to develop once the area is de-risked.

So, I see a low risk, low cost play at Chip Lake that could take Artisan’s production from 250-2000 bopd by the end of 2014—without a big cost outlay. You know management will be prudent with capital because they own over 40% of the stock.

The Street gives these fast payback plays a premium, so that’s in investors’ favour.

Then for Big Upside, they have the Alberta Bakken play—which has turned into THE most prolific play in all of southern Alberta. Artisan has two other light oil plays as well—they’re both at development stage—but Chip Lake and the Alberta

Bakken are the two that get me excited—and they’re all I need. Oil weighted. Fast payback. Big Inventory. Low Cost.

It’s got the cocktail that every junior wants. It’s got the steak, and it’s got the sizzle. The good news is it’s priced like a hamburger.
 
 
This story has been sponsored and reviewed by Artisan management
 
DISCLAIMER: The information in this newsletter does not constitute an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any securities of a corporation or entity, including U.S. Traded Securities or U.S. Quoted Securities, in the United States or to U.S. Persons.  Securities may not be offered or sold in the United States except in compliance with the registration requirements of the Securities Act and applicable U.S. state securities laws or pursuant to an exemption therefrom.  Any public offering of securities in the United States may only be made by means of a prospectus containing detailed information about the corporation or entity and its management as well as financial statements.  No securities regulatory authority in the United States has either approved or disapproved of the contents of any newsletter.

Keith Schaefer is not registered with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”): as a “broker-dealer” under the Exchange Act, as an “investment adviser” under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, or in any other capacity.  He is also not registered with any state securities commission or authority as a broker-dealer or investment advisor or in any other capacity.

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