|Closing Price ($)||Shares Out (MM)||Market Cap ($MM)|
|8-K||2020-01-28||Officers, Regulation FD, Exhibits|
|8-K||2019-09-16||Regulation FD, Exhibits|
|8-K||2019-09-13||Regulation FD, Exhibits|
|8-K||2019-06-20||Other Events, Exhibits|
|8-K||2019-06-12||Officers, Shareholder Vote, Regulation FD, Exhibits|
|8-K||2019-03-28||Regulation FD, Exhibits|
|8-K||2018-09-25||Enter Agreement, Exhibits|
|8-K||2018-02-01||Regulation FD, Exhibits|
|8-K||2018-01-25||Regulation FD, Exhibits|
|Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments|
|Item 2. Properties|
|Item 16. Form 10-K Summary|
|Balance Sheet||Income Statement||Cash Flow|
|Comparables ($MM TTM)|
|Ticker||M Cap||Assets||Liab||Rev||G Profit||Net Inc||EBITDA||EV||G Margin||EV/EBITDA||ROA|
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from to
Commission file number:
(Exact name of registrant as specified on its charter)
(State or other jurisdiction of
incorporation or organization)
(Address of principal executive offices) (Zip Code)
(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code): (
Securities registered under Section 12(b) of the Exchange Act:
Title of each class
Name of each exchange on which registered
Common Stock, par value $0.10
London Stock Exchange
Securities registered under Section 12(g) of the Exchange Act: None
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes ¨ No
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15d of the Act. Yes ¨ No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes No ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§ 232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). Yes No ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,”, “smaller reporting company” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filer ¨
Non-accelerated filer ¨
Smaller reporting company
Emerging growth company
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes No
As of June 28, 2019, the aggregate market value of the voting and non-voting common equity of the registrant held by non-affiliates was approximately $
As of March 3, 2020, there were outstanding
VAALCO ENERGY, INC.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Glossary of Terms
Terms used to describe quantities of crude oil and natural gas
Bbl — One stock tank barrel, or 42 United States (“U.S.”) gallons liquid volume, of crude oil or other liquid hydrocarbons.
BOPD — One barrel of crude oil per day.
MBbl — One thousand Bbls.
MBOPD — One thousand barrels of crude oil per day.
MMBbl — One million Bbls.
Terms used to describe legal ownership of crude oil and natural gas properties, and other terms applicable to our operations
Carried interest — Working interest (as described below) where the carried interest owner’s share of costs is paid by the non-carried working interest owners. The carried costs are repaid to the non-carried working interest owners from the revenues of the carried working interest owner.
Gabon — Republic of Gabon.
Consortium –A consortium of four companies granted rights and obligations in the Etame Marin block offshore Gabon under the Etame PSC.
PSC — A production sharing contract; Etame PSC is the Etame Production Sharing Contract, as amended, and as it may be further amended, that we have entered into with Gabon, related to the Etame Marin block located offshore Gabon.
FPSO — A floating, production, storage and offloading vessel.
Participating interest — Working interest (as defined below) attributable to a non-carried interest owner adjusted to include its relative share of the benefits and obligations attributable to carried working interest owners.
Royalty interest — A real property interest entitling the owner to receive a specified portion of the gross proceeds of the sale of crude oil and natural gas production or, if the conveyance creating the interest provides, a specific portion of crude oil and natural gas produced, without any deduction for the costs to explore for, develop or produce the crude oil and natural gas.
Working interest — A real property interest entitling the owner to receive a specified percentage of the proceeds of the sale of crude oil and natural gas production or a percentage of the production, but requiring the owner of the working interest to bear the cost to explore for, develop and produce such crude oil and natural gas. A working interest owner who owns a portion of the working interest may participate either as operator or by voting his percentage interest to approve or disapprove the appointment of an operator and drilling and other major activities in connection with the development and operation of a property.
Terms used to describe interests in wells and acreage
Gross crude oil and natural gas wells or acres — Gross wells or gross acres represent the total number of wells or acres in which a working interest is owned, before consideration of the ownership percentage.
Net crude oil and natural gas wells or acres — Determined by multiplying “gross” wells or acres by the owned working interest.
Terms used to classify reserve quantities
Proved developed crude oil and natural gas reserves — Developed crude oil and natural gas reserves are reserves of any category that can be expected to be recovered:
(i) Through existing wells with existing equipment and operating methods or in which the cost of the required equipment is relatively minor compared to the cost of a new well; and
(ii) Through installed extraction equipment and infrastructure operational at the time of the reserves estimate if the extraction is by means not involving a well.
Proved crude oil and natural gas reserves — Proved crude oil and natural gas reserves are those quantities of crude oil and natural gas, which, by analysis of geoscience and engineering data, can be estimated with reasonable certainty to be economically producible (from a given date forward, from known reservoirs, and under existing economic conditions, operating methods, and government regulations) prior to the time at which contracts providing the right to operate expire, unless evidence indicates that renewal is reasonably certain, regardless of whether deterministic or probabilistic methods
are used for the estimation. The project to extract the hydrocarbons must have commenced or the operator must be reasonably certain that it will commence the project within a reasonable time.
(i) The area of the reservoir considered as proved includes:
(A) The area identified by drilling and limited by fluid contacts, if any, and
(B) Adjacent undrilled portions of the reservoir that can, with reasonable certainty, be judged to be continuous with it and to contain economically producible crude oil or natural gas on the basis of available geoscience and engineering data.
(ii) In the absence of data on fluid contacts, proved quantities in a reservoir are limited by the lowest known hydrocarbons (LKH) as seen in a well penetration unless geoscience, engineering, or performance data and reliable technology establishes a lower contact with reasonable certainty.
(iii) Where direct observation from well penetrations has defined a highest known crude oil (HKO) elevation and the potential exists for an associated natural gas cap, proved crude oil reserves may be assigned in the structurally higher portions of the reservoir only if geoscience, engineering, or performance data and reliable technology establish the higher contact with reasonable certainty.
(iv) Reserves that can be produced economically through application of improved recovery techniques (including, but not limited to, fluid injection), are included in the proved classification when:
(A) Successful testing by a pilot project in an area of the reservoir with properties no more favorable than in the reservoir as a whole, the operation of an installed program in the reservoir or an analogous reservoir, or other evidence using reliable technology establishes the reasonable certainty of the engineering analysis on which the project or program was based; and
(B) The project has been approved for development by all necessary parties and entities, including governmental entities.
(v) Existing economic conditions include prices and costs at which economic producibility from a reservoir is to be determined. The price shall be the average price during the 12-month period prior to the ending date of the period covered by the report, determined as an unweighted arithmetic average of the first-day-of-the-month price for each month within such period, unless prices are defined by contractual arrangements, excluding escalations based upon future conditions.
Reserves — Reserves are estimated remaining quantities of crude oil and natural gas and related substances anticipated to be economically producible, as of a given date, by application of development projects to known accumulations. In addition, there must exist, or there must be a reasonable expectation that there will exist, the legal right to produce or a revenue interest in the production, installed means of delivering crude oil and natural gas or related substances to market, and all permits and financing required to implement the project.
Proved undeveloped crude oil and natural gas reserves — Proved undeveloped crude oil and natural gas reserves are reserves that are expected to be recovered from new wells on undrilled acreage, or from existing wells where a relatively major expenditure is required for recompletion.
(i) Reserves on undrilled acreage shall be limited to those directly offsetting development spacing areas that are reasonably certain of production when drilled, unless evidence using reliable technology exists that establishes reasonable certainty of economic producibility at greater distances.
(ii) Undrilled locations can be classified as having proved undeveloped reserves only if a development plan has been adopted indicating that they are scheduled to be drilled within five years, unless the specific circumstances, justify a longer time.
(iii) Under no circumstances shall estimates for proved undeveloped reserves be attributable to any acreage for which an application of fluid injection or other improved recovery technique is contemplated, unless such techniques have been proved effective by actual projects in the same reservoir or an analogous reservoir, or by other evidence using reliable technology establishing reasonable certainty.
Unproved properties — Properties with no proved reserves.
Terms used to assign a present value to reserves
Standardized measure — The standardized measure of discounted future net cash flows (“standardized measure”) is the present value, discounted at an annual rate of 10%, of estimated future net revenues to be generated from the production of proved reserves, determined in accordance with the rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), using the 12-month unweighted average of first-day-of-the-month Brent prices adjusted for historical marketing
differentials, (the “12-month average”), without giving effect to non–property related expenses such as certain general and administrative expenses, debt service, derivatives or to depreciation, depletion and amortization.
Terms used to describe seismic operations
Seismic data — Crude oil and natural gas companies use seismic data as their principal source of information to locate crude oil and natural gas deposits, both to aid in exploration for new deposits and to manage or enhance production from known reservoirs. To gather seismic data, an energy source is used to send sound waves into the subsurface strata. These waves are reflected back to the surface by underground formations, where they are detected by geophones that digitize and record the reflected waves. Computers are then used to process the raw data to develop an image of underground formations.
3-D seismic data — 3-D seismic data is collected using a grid of energy sources, which are generally spread over several miles. A 3-D survey produces a three dimensional image of the subsurface geology by collecting seismic data along parallel lines and creating a cube of information that can be divided into various planes, thus improving visualization. Consequently, 3-D seismic data is a more reliable indicator of potential crude oil and natural gas reservoirs in the area evaluated.
SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
This Annual Report on Form 10-K (this “Annual Report”) includes “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”), and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, (the “Exchange Act”), which are intended to be covered by the safe harbors created by those laws. We have based these forward-looking statements on our current expectations and projections about future events. These forward-looking statements include information about possible or assumed future results of our operations. All statements, other than statements of historical facts, included in this Annual Report that address activities, events or developments that we expect or anticipate may occur in the future, including without limitation, statements regarding our financial position, operating performance and results, reserve quantities and net present values, market prices, business strategy, derivative activities, the amount and nature of capital expenditures and plans and objectives of management for future operations are forward-looking statements. When we use words such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “forecast,” “outlook,” “aim,” “target,” “will,” “could,” “should,” “may,” “likely,” “plan,” and “probably” or the negative of such terms or similar expressions, we are making forward-looking statements. Many risks and uncertainties that could affect our future results and could cause results to differ materially from those expressed in our forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to:
volatility of, and declines and weaknesses in crude oil and natural gas prices;
the discovery, acquisition, development and replacement of crude oil and natural gas reserves;
future capital requirements;
our ability to maintain sufficient liquidity in order to fully implement our business plan;
our ability to generate cash flows that, along with our cash on hand, will be sufficient to support our operations and cash requirements;
our ability to attract capital or obtain debt financing arrangements;
our ability to pay the expenditures required in order to develop certain of our properties;
operating hazards inherent in the exploration for and production of crude oil and natural gas;
difficulties encountered during the exploration for and production of crude oil and natural gas;
the impact of competition;
our ability to identify and complete complementary opportunistic acquisitions;
our ability to effectively integrate assets and properties that we acquire into our operations;
the uncertainty of estimates of crude oil and natural gas reserves;
currency exchange rates and regulations;
unanticipated issues and liabilities arising from non-compliance with environmental regulations;
the ultimate resolution of our abandonment funding obligations with the government of Gabon and the audit of our operations in Gabon currently being conducted by the government of Gabon;
the availability and cost of seismic, drilling and other equipment;
difficulties encountered in measuring, transporting and delivering crude oil to commercial markets;
timing and amount of future production of crude oil and natural gas;
hedging decisions, including whether or not to enter into derivative financial instruments;
general economic conditions, including any future economic downturn, disruption in financial markets and the availability of credit;
our ability to enter into new customer contracts;
changes in customer demand and producers’ supply;
actions by the governments of and events occurring in the countries in which we operate;
actions by our joint venture owners;
compliance with, or the effect of changes in, governmental regulations regarding our exploration, production, and well completion operations including those related to climate change;
the outcome of any governmental audit; and
actions of operators of our crude oil and natural gas properties.
The information contained in this Annual Report, including the information set forth under the heading “Item 1A. Risk Factors,” identifies additional factors that could cause our results or performance to differ materially from those we express in forward-looking statements. Although we believe that the assumptions underlying our forward-looking statements are reasonable, any of these assumptions and therefore also the forward-looking statements based on these assumptions, could themselves prove to be inaccurate. In light of the significant uncertainties inherent in the forward-looking statements that are included in this Annual Report, our inclusion of this information is not a representation by us or any other person that our objectives and plans will be achieved. When you consider our forward-looking statements, you should keep in mind these risk factors and the other cautionary statements in this Annual Report.
Our forward-looking statements speak only as of the date the statements are made and reflect our best judgment about future events and trends based on the information currently available to us. Our results of operations can be affected by inaccurate assumptions we make or by risks and uncertainties known or unknown to us. Therefore, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the forward-looking statements. Actual events and results of operations may vary materially from our current expectations and assumptions. Our forward-looking statements, express or implied, are expressly qualified in their entirety by this “Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements,” which constitute cautionary statements. These cautionary statements should also be considered in connection with any subsequent written or oral forward-looking statements that we or persons acting on our behalf may issue.
Except as otherwise required by applicable law, we disclaim any duty to update any forward-looking statements, all of which are expressly qualified by the statements in this section, to reflect events or circumstances occurring after the date of this Annual Report.
Item 1. Business
VAALCO Energy, Inc. is a Delaware corporation, incorporated in 1985 and headquartered at 9800 Richmond Avenue, Suite 700, Houston, Texas 77042. Our telephone number is (713) 623-0801 and our website address is www.vaalco.com. As used in this Annual Report, the terms, “we,” “us,” “our,” the “Company” and “VAALCO” refer to VAALCO Energy, Inc. and its consolidated subsidiaries, unless the context otherwise requires.
We are a Houston, Texas-based independent energy company engaged in the acquisition, exploration, development and production of crude oil. Our primary source of revenue has been from the Etame PSC related to the Etame Marin block located offshore Gabon in West Africa. We also currently own interests in an undeveloped block offshore Equatorial Guinea, West Africa.
We own producing properties and conduct operating activities offshore West Africa with a focus on maximizing the value of our Gabon resources and expanding into new development opportunities across Africa. Our financial results are heavily dependent upon the margins between prices received for our offshore Gabon crude oil production and the costs to find and produce such crude oil. Prior to 2019, we focused on maximizing our margins by reducing costs, paying off debt, divesting non-core assets, minimizing capital expenditures and maintaining our existing production at optimal levels. On September 25, 2018, the term of the Etame PSC with Gabon related to the Etame Marin block located offshore Gabon was extended through 2028 with options to extend up to an additional ten years (“PSC Extension”). The PSC Extension provides us with the extended time horizon necessary to pursue developing the resources we have identified at Etame. Our financial position has improved, and we believe that we have working capital sufficient to sustain current operations and fund development projects on our Etame license in Gabon.
In September 2019, VAALCO commenced its 2019/2020 drilling campaign. During the remainder of 2019, the Company drilled one development well and one appraisal wellbore and during the first quarter of 2020, we drilled the remaining development well and appraisal wellbore required under the PSC Extension. In addition, we commenced drilling a third development well, which is expected to be completed in late March of 2020. We are now focused on maximizing value, growing reserves and increasing production and will continue our efforts to repeat similar drilling campaigns in the future. We are also pursuing accretive growth opportunities, including potential acquisitions, where we can leverage our proven technical and operational capabilities in areas where we have established favorable relationships with host governments and local joint venture owners. We completed a dual listing of
our common stock on the London Stock Exchange on September 26, 2019, which we believe will provide us access to additional sources of capital to help fund our growth objectives.
In early March 2020, crude oil prices declined to below $40 per barrel for Brent crude as a result of market concerns about the ability of OPEC and Russia to agree on a perceived need to implement further production cuts in response to weaker worldwide demand. VAALCO intends to manage both operating expenses as well as capital expenditure levels in view of the existing and expected pricing environment. In addition, the Company continues to evaluate all uses of cash and whether to pursue growth opportunities in light of ongoing economic conditions. In addition, we will evaluate whether to pursue growth opportunities in light of ongoing economic conditions.
Our strategy is to create long-term value for all stakeholders by focusing on profitable growth from low-risk reserve development while maintaining financial discipline. Specifically, we seek to:
Focus on maintaining production and lowering costs to increase margins and preserve optionality to capitalize on an increase in crude oil prices;
Manage capital expenditures related to Etame drilling program so that expenditures can be funded by cash on hand and cash from operations;
Continue our focus on operating safely and complying with internationally accepted environmental operating standards;
Optimize production through careful management of wells and infrastructure;
Maximize our cash flow and income generation;
Continue planning for additional development in Etame as well as future activity in Equatorial Guinea;
Preserve a strong balance sheet by maintaining conservative leverage ratios and exhibiting financial discipline;
Opportunistically hedge against exposures to changes in crude oil prices; and
Actively pursue strategic, value-accretive mergers and acquisitions of similar properties to diversify our portfolio of producing assets.
We believe that we have strong management and technical expertise specific to West Africa, and that our strengths include:
Our reputation as a safe and efficient operator in Africa;
Our history of establishing favorable operating relationships with host governments and local joint venture owners;
Our subsurface knowledge of key plays and risks in the broader regional framework of discoveries and fields;
Our operational capacity to take on new development projects;
Our familiarity with local practices and infrastructure; and
Our market intelligence to provide early insight into available opportunities.
SEGMENT AND GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION
For operating segment and geographic financial information, see Note 5 to the Financial Statements. Our only reportable operating segments are Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
Offshore – Etame Marin Block
Our most significant asset, which accounts for 100% of our current revenues, is the Etame PSC related to the Etame Marin block located offshore Gabon. The Etame Marin block covers an area of approximately 46,200 gross acres located 20 miles offshore in water depths of approximately 250 feet. The Etame, Avouma/South Tchibala, Ebouri, Southeast Etame and North Tchibala fields are included in the block. Our working interest in the Etame Marin block is 31.1%, and we are designated as the operator on behalf of the Consortium. The fields are subject to a 7.5% back-in carried interest by the government of Gabon, which they have assigned to a third party. Our working interest decreases to 30.3% in June 2026 when the back-in carried interest increases to 10%.
Fields in the Etame Marin block. There are currently five producing fields in the Etame Marin block: the Etame field, which has seven producing wells; the Avouma/South Tchibala field, which has three producing wells; the Ebouri field, which has one producing well; the Southeast Etame field, which has one producing well and the North Tchibala field, which has one producing well.
Development. As previously announced, we commenced our 2019/2020 drilling campaign in September 2019. In order to execute our drilling campaign, we contracted the Vantage Drilling International Topaz jackup drilling rig, and in September 2019, we spud the Etame 9P appraisal wellbore at the Etame field offshore Gabon. In October 2019, the Etame 9P, targeting the subcropping Dentale reservoir, was successfully drilled to a total depth of 10,260 feet and encountered both Gamba and Dentale crude oil sands. We did not encounter hydrogen sulfide (“H2S”) in either the Gamba or Dentale reservoirs, which could impact the safety and marketability of production from those wells. In December 2019, VAALCO reached total depth of approximately 8,900 feet in drilling the Etame 9H development well and completed approximately 1,000 feet of the horizontal section within the Gamba reservoir as planned. The horizontal section of the Etame 9H development well is at the top of the Gamba structure where the high-quality reservoir is
approximately 45 feet thick. After installing production equipment, the Etame 9H development well was brought online at an initial rate of 5,500 BOPD gross, (1,500 BOPD net to VAALCO), with no H2S.
Shortly after completion of the Etame 9H development well, the Company began drilling the Etame 11H horizontal development well from the Etame platform, targeting the same Gamba reservoir at a different location in the Etame field. The Company reached a total measured depth of approximately 9,022 feet in the Etame 11H development well and completed approximately 860 feet of horizontal section within the Gamba reservoir. Similar to Etame 9H well, the initial development well in the 2019/2020 program, the horizontal section of the Etame 11H well is at the top of the Gamba structure but at a different location. After installing production equipment, the Etame 11H well was brought online at an initial flow rate of approximately 5,200 BOPD gross, (1,400 BOPD net to VAALCO), in early January 2020 with no H2S.
We drilled the SE Etame 4P appraisal wellbore to evaluate a Gamba step out area in Southeast Etame field during the first quarter of 2020. With the drilling of the SE Etame 4P appraisal wellbore, VAALCO has satisfied the drilling commitment as part of the PSC Extension that VAALCO signed in late 2018. The SE Etame 4P appraisal wellbore indicated the presence of approximately 1.0 to 2.0 MMBbls of hydrocarbons in the Gamba reservoir, and the Company began drilling a third development well, the SE Etame 4H as part of the ongoing 2019/2020 drilling campaign. This development well is expected to come online in late March of 2020.
Production. Production operations in the Etame Marin block include ten platform wells, plus three subsea wells across all fields tied back by pipelines to deliver crude oil and associated natural gas through a riser system to allow for delivery, processing, storage and ultimately offloading the crude oil from a leased FPSO vessel anchored to the seabed on the block. Production from seven of our wells is aided by an electric submersible pump (“ESP”). We have thirteen producing wells; however, one is temporarily shut-in pending workovers. The FPSO has production limitations of approximately 25,000 BOPD and 30,000 barrels of total fluids per day. For the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017, aggregate production from the block was approximately 4.7 MMBbls (1.3 MMBbls net to us), 5.1 MMBbls (1.4 MMBbls net to us) and 5.6 MMBbls (1.5 MMBbls net to us), respectively. Our net share of barrels produced reflects an allocation of cost oil and profit oil after reduction for a royalty of approximately 13%. Periodically, we perform workovers on our wells to maintain or restore production. For further discussion on workovers see “Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations – Current Developments.”
Hydrogen Sulfide Impact
Four of our wells are currently shut-in for safety and marketability reasons because of high levels of H2S. These wells have been excluded from the above-referenced well count. H2S was not encountered in any of the wells or appraisal wellbores drilled in the 2019/2020 drilling campaign. To re-establish and maximize production from the impacted areas, additional capital investment will be required, including the construction of one or more processing facilities capable of removing H2S, the recompletion of the temporarily abandoned wells and the potential drilling of additional wells. We have determined that these identified processing facilities are not economically attractive at current crude oil prices. As of December 31, 2019, we had no proved reserves booked for the wells impacted by high levels of H2S.
At December 31, 2019, we had $13.8 million in undeveloped leasehold costs related to the Etame Marin block. These costs are associated with the exploitation area expansion related to the PSC Extension.
Under the Etame PSC terms, the Consortium has agreed to a cash funding arrangement for the eventual abandonment of all offshore wells, platforms and facilities on the Etame Marin block. We are required under the Etame PSC to conduct abandonment studies to update the amounts being funded for the eventual abandonment of the offshore wells, platforms and facilities on the Etame Marin block. The most recent abandonment study was completed in November 2018 and resulted in estimated gross abandonment costs of approximately $61.8 million ($19.2 million, net to VAALCO) on an undiscounted basis. Through December 31, 2019, $36.7 million ($11.4 million, net to VAALCO) on an undiscounted basis has been funded. The annual abandonment cost requirements net to VAALCO are expected to be $1.5 million in 2020 and $0.8 million for 2021 through 2028. Amounts paid are reimbursable through a “Cost Account” under the Etame PSC, which accumulates capital costs and operating expenses that are deductible against revenues, net of royalties, in determining taxable profits. These amounts are non-refundable. Our estimated liabilities for the abandonment of these Gabon offshore facilities as of December 31, 2019 and 2018 were $15.8 million and $14.8 million, respectively, which are included in the total “Asset retirement obligation” line item on our consolidated balance sheets as of December 31, 2019 and 2018. Initial recording of this liability is offset by a corresponding capitalization of asset retirement costs reflected under “Crude oil and natural gas properties and equipment – successful efforts method” in the line item “Wells, platforms and other production facilities” on our consolidated balance sheets as of December 31, 2019 and 2018.
Equatorial Guinea Segment
VAALCO has a 31% working interest in an undeveloped portion of a block offshore Equatorial Guinea acquired in 2012 (the “Block P interest”). The Equatorial Guinea Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons (“EG MMH”) approved our appointment as operator for Block P on November 12, 2019 and we are currently waiting on a production sharing contract amendment to begin activities in Block
P. VAALCO is in commercial discussions with Levene HydroCarbon Limited (“Levene”) where Levene would potentially cover all or substantially all of VAALCO’s cost to drill an exploratory well and purchase a portion of VAALCO’s working interest in Block P in an exchange for VAALCO serving as a non-owner operator, under a service agreement with Levene, on Blocks 3, 4 and 19 in Equatorial Guinea. Levene and VAALCO have executed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding regarding the commercial discussions however, neither have executed any binding agreements and there can be no certainty a transaction will be completed. Further, approval of the assignment by the Equatorial Guinea Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons must be obtained prior to any transaction being completed. As of December 31, 2019, the Company had $10.0 million recorded for the book value of the undeveloped leasehold costs associated with the Block P license. VAALCO and its current and potential future joint venture owners are evaluating the timing and budgeting for development and exploration activities under a development and production area in the block, including the approval of a development and production plan. The production sharing contract covering this development and production area provides for a development and production period of 25 years from the date of approval of a development and production plan.
Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (“OPEC”) Production Reductions
During 2017 and 2018, Gabon, as a member of OPEC, agreed to reduce its production by up to 9,000 Bbl per day. As a result of natural production declines, production in 2017 and 2018 was not impacted by this agreement. As of December 2018, OPEC decided to further reduce overall production by 0.8 MBOPD for the first six months of 2019 versus the October 2018 levels. Near the end of 2019, OPEC had an agreement in place to reduce production by a total of 1.2 MBOPD until March 2020; however, we have not been advised whether this will require us to reduce production for 2020. We do not expect our production will be impacted by the agreement because of natural declines in production and capacity limitations. Nevertheless, there can be no assurance that this agreement or future agreements would not result in limitations on our production.
We had no drilling activity during the period from January 1, 2016 through December 31, 2018. As discussed above, we commenced the 2019/2020 drilling campaign in September 2019. The following table sets forth the total number of exploratory and development wells drilled in 2019, 2018, 2017 on a gross and net basis:
ACREAGE AND PRODUCTIVE WELLS
Below is the total acreage under lease or covered by the Etame PSC and the total number of productive crude oil and natural gas wells as of December 31, 2019:
Acreage in thousands
Productive crude oil wells
(1)We have net undeveloped acreage of 5,400 acres offshore Gabon and 17,700 acres offshore Equatorial Guinea.
(2)Excludes two wells (Etame 10H and Ebouri 2H), which were temporarily shut-in pending workovers and excludes the Etame 8H, the Etame 5H and two Ebouri field wells shut-in due to the presence of high levels of H2S.
Estimated Reserves and Estimated Future Net Revenues
In accordance with the current SEC guidelines, estimates of future net cash flow from our properties and the present value thereof are made using the average of the first-day-of-the-month price for each of the twelve months of the year adjusted for quality, transportation fees and market differentials. Such prices are held constant throughout the life of the properties except where such guidelines permit alternate treatment, including the use of fixed and determinable contractual price escalations. For 2019, the average of such price used for our reserve estimates was $63.60 per Bbl for crude oil from Gabon. This compares to the average of such price used for 2018 of $70.83 per Bbl.
Reserves reported below consist of net proved reserves related to the Etame Marin block located offshore Gabon in West Africa. There have been no estimates of total proved net crude oil or natural gas reserves filed with or included in reports to any U.S. federal authority or agency other than the SEC since the beginning of the last fiscal year. The table below sets forth our estimated net proved reserve quantities for the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017 as prepared by our independent petroleum engineering firm, Netherland, Sewell & Associates, Inc. (“NSAI”).
As of December 31,
Proved developed reserves (MBbls)
Proved undeveloped reserves (MBbls)
Total proved reserves (MBbls)
Standardized Measure and Changes in Proved Reserves
The following table shows changes in total proved reserves for all presented years:
Crude Oil (MBbls)
Balance at January 1, 2017
Revisions of previous estimates
Balance at December 31, 2017
Extensions and discoveries
Revisions of previous estimates
Balance at December 31, 2018
Revisions of previous estimates
Balance at December 31, 2019
As of December 31,
Standardized measure of discounted future net cash flows
The information set forth in the foregoing tables includes revisions for certain reserve estimates attributable to proved properties included in preceding years’ estimates. Such revisions are the result of additional information from subsequent completions and production history from the properties involved or the result of an increase or decrease in the projected economic life of such properties resulting from changes in product prices. Crude oil amounts shown for Gabon are recoverable under the Etame PSC, and the reserves in place at the end of the contract remain the property of the Gabon government. The reserves at the end of the contract are not included in the table above.
We do not reflect proved reserves on discoveries in our reserve estimates until such time as a development plan has been prepared and approved by our joint owners and the government, where applicable. The proved undeveloped reserves at December 31, 2018 in the table above were primarily related to the Etame 9H and the South Tchibala 3H wells. At December 31, 2019, the reserves associated with the Etame 9H were reclassified from proved undeveloped reserves to proved developed producing reserves. The reserves
associated with the South Tchibala 3H well were removed from proved undeveloped volumes because VAALCO and the Etame joint owners decided to remove the well from the 2019 development schedule and instead drill the Etame 11H. Drilling and completing the Etame 11H well resulted in reserve additions classified as proved developed nonproducing reserves at year end 2019.
At December 31, 2019, we had estimated net proved reserves of 5.0 MMBbls. For 2019, our proved reserve additions of 0.9 MMBbl were equal to 68% of our 2019 Gabon production, as reflected in the reserve report issued by our independent petroleum engineering firm, Netherland, Sewell & Associates, Inc. (“NSAI”). We added 1.1 MMBbls of reserves through reservoir performance additions offset by downward revisions of proved reserves as a result of lower average crude oil prices of 0.2 MMBbls. The decrease in the average of the first-day-of-the-month prices for each of the twelve months of the year adjusted for quality, transportation fees and market differentials required by SEC rules to determine reserves, was from $70.83 for the 2018 year-end report to $63.60 for the 2019 year-end report.
In 2018, we replaced 270% of production by adding a total of 3.7 MMBbls of proved reserves including 2.2 MMBbls of proved reserves additions as a result of extending the Etame PSC in Gabon. VAALCO also added 1.1 MMBbls of proved reserves as a result of improved reservoir performance and another 0.4 MMBbls of proved reserves as a result of higher crude oil pricing.
The upward revision of the previous estimates of proved reserves in 2017 were primarily a result of improved well performance and to a lesser degree the higher average crude oil prices.
There are numerous uncertainties inherent in estimating quantities of proved reserves and in projecting future rates of production and timing of development expenditures, including many factors beyond our control. Reserve engineering is a subjective process of estimating underground accumulations of crude oil and natural gas that cannot be measured in an exact manner, and the accuracy of any reserve estimate is a function of the quality of available data and of engineering and geological interpretation and judgment. The quantities of crude oil and natural gas that are ultimately recovered, production and operating costs, the amount and timing of future development expenditures and future crude oil and natural gas sales prices may all differ from those assumed in these estimates. The standardized measure of discounted future net cash flows should not be construed as the current market value of the estimated crude oil and natural gas reserves attributable to our properties.
Historically, we have reviewed on an annual basis all of our proved undeveloped reserves (“PUDs”) to ensure an appropriate plan for development exists. At December 31, 2019, we had no PUDs because future development wells have not been approved by joint venture owners. At December 31, 2018, we had PUDs associated with two wells, one that, as such time, the Consortium had planned to drill in 2019. For the first of these two wells, we completed drilling during the last half of 2019 and the second well was completed during first quarter 2020. As a result of crude oil prices in 2017, our PUDs were uneconomic to develop at prices calculated in accordance with SEC guidelines. Accordingly, we had no PUDs recorded at December 31, 2017.
Controls over Reserve Estimates
Our policies and practices regarding internal controls over the recording of reserves is structured to objectively and accurately estimate our crude oil and natural gas reserves quantities and present values in compliance with SEC regulations and generally accepted accounting principles in the U.S. (“GAAP”). Compliance with these rules and regulations with respect to our reserves is the responsibility of a reservoir engineer, who is our principal engineer. Our principal engineer has over 30 years of experience in the crude oil and natural gas industry, including over 10 years as a reserve evaluator and trainer, and is a qualified reserves estimator, as defined by the Society of Petroleum Engineers’ standards. Further professional qualifications include a Master’s degree in petroleum engineering and Texas Professional Engineering (PE) certification, extensive internal and external reserve training, and asset evaluation and management. In addition, the principal engineer is an active participant in industry reserve seminars, professional industry groups and is a member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers. The Audit Committee of the Board of Directors meets periodically with management to discuss matters and policies related to reserves.
Our controls over reserve estimation include retaining NSAI as our independent petroleum and geological firm for all years presented. We provide information to NSAI about our crude oil and natural gas properties, which includes, but is not limited to, production profiles, ownership and production sharing rights, prices, costs and future drilling plans. NSAI prepares its own estimates of the reserves attributable to our properties. The reserves estimates shown herein have been independently evaluated by NSAI, a worldwide leader of petroleum property analysis for industry and financial organizations and government agencies. NSAI was founded in 1961 and performs consulting petroleum engineering services under Texas Board of Professional Engineers Registration No. F-2699. Within NSAI, the technical persons primarily responsible for preparing the estimates set forth in the NSAI reserves report incorporated herein are Mr. John R. Cliver and Mr. Zachary R. Long. Mr. Cliver, a Licensed Professional Engineer in the State of Texas, has been practicing consulting petroleum engineering at NSAI since 2009 and has over 5 years of prior industry experience. He graduated from Rice University in 2004 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemical Engineering and from the University of Texas at Austin in 2008 with a Master of Business Administration Degree. Mr. Long, a Licensed Professional Geoscientist in the State of Texas, has been practicing consulting petroleum geoscience at NSAI since 2007 and has over 2 years of prior industry experience. He graduated from University of Louisiana at Lafayette in 2003 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Geology and from Texas A&M University in 2005 with a Master of Science Degree in Geophysics.
Net Volumes sold, Prices, and Production Costs
Net volumes sold, average sales prices per unit, and production costs per unit for our 2019, 2018 and 2017 operations are shown in the tables below. All volumes are for crude oil produced from the Etame Marin block.
Year Ended December 31,
Net crude oil sales (MBbl)
Average crude oil sales price ($/Bbl)
Average production expense ($/Bbl)
On September 30, 2016, we notified Sonangol P&P, our joint venture owners, that we were withdrawing from the joint operating agreement effective October 31, 2016. Further to our decision to withdraw from Angola, we closed our office in Angola and do not intend to conduct future activities in Angola. As a result of this strategic shift, the Angola segment has been classified as discontinued operations in the Financial Statements for all periods presented. In 2019, the Company and Sonangol E.P. entered into a settlement agreement finalizing the Company’s rights, liabilities and outstanding obligations for Block 5 in Angola. See “Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations – Discontinued Operations - Angola.”
We file annual, quarterly and current reports, proxy statements and other information with the SEC. Our SEC filings are available to the public at the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov.
You may also obtain copies of our annual, quarterly and current reports, proxy statements and certain other information filed with the SEC, as well as amendments thereto, free of charge from our website at www.vaalco.com. No information from either the SEC’s website or our website is incorporated by reference herein. We have placed on our website copies of charters for our Audit Committee, Compensation Committee and Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee as well as our Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, Corporate Governance Principles and Code of Ethics for the CEO and Senior Financial Officers. Stockholders may request a printed copy of these governance materials by writing to the Corporate Secretary, VAALCO Energy, Inc., 9800 Richmond Avenue, Suite 700, Houston, Texas 77042.
For the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017, we sold our crude oil production from Gabon under a term contract with pricing based upon an average of Dated Brent in the month of lifting, adjusted for location and market factors. The contracted purchaser was Glencore Energy UK Ltd. (“Glencore”) for these periods and through January 2019. Sales of crude oil to Glencore were approximately 100% of revenues sold to customers for 2018. Our contract with Mercuria Energy Trading SA covers crude oil sales from February 2019 through January 2020. The Company signed a new contract with ExxonMobil Corporation (“Exxon”) that covers sales from February 2020 through January 2021 with pricing based upon an average of Dated Brent in the month of lifting, adjusted for location and market factors.
The terms of the Etame PSC include provisions for payments to the government of Gabon for: royalties based on 13% of production at the published price and a shared portion of “Profit Oil” determined based on daily production rates, as well as a gross carried working interest of 7.5% (increasing to 10% beginning June 20, 2026) for all costs. Prior to February 1, 2018, the government of Gabon did not take any of its share of Profit Oil in-kind. Beginning February 1, 2018, the government of Gabon elected to take its Profit Oil in-kind.
As of December 31, 2019, we had 111 full-time employees, 75 of whom were located in Gabon. We are not subject to any collective bargaining agreements, although some of the national employees in Gabon are members of the NEOP (National Organization of Petroleum Workers) union. We believe relations with our employees are satisfactory.
The crude oil and natural gas industry is highly competitive. Competition is particularly intense from other independent operators and from major crude oil and natural gas companies with respect to acquisitions and development of desirable crude oil and natural gas properties and licenses, and contracting for drilling equipment. There is also competition for the hiring of experienced personnel. In addition, the drilling, producing, processing and marketing of crude oil and natural gas is affected by a number of factors beyond our control, which may delay drilling, increase prices and have other adverse effects, which cannot be accurately predicted.
Our competition for acquisitions, exploration, development and production includes the major crude oil and natural gas companies in addition to numerous independent crude oil companies, individual proprietors, investors and others. We also compete against
companies developing alternatives to petroleum-based products, including those that are developing renewable fuels. Many of these competitors have financial and technical resources and staff that are substantially larger than ours. As a result, our competitors may be able to pay more for desirable crude oil and natural gas assets, or to evaluate, bid for and purchase a greater number of properties and licenses than our financial or personnel resources will permit. Furthermore, these companies may also be better able to withstand the financial pressures of lower commodity prices, unsuccessful wells, volatility in financial markets and generally adverse global and industry-wide economic conditions. These companies may also be better able to absorb the burdens resulting from changes in relevant laws and regulations, which may adversely affect our competitive position. Our ability to generate reserves in the future will depend on our ability to select and acquire suitable producing properties and/or developing prospects for future drilling and exploration.
For protection against financial loss resulting from various operating hazards, we maintain insurance coverage, including insurance coverage for certain physical damage, blowout/control of a well, comprehensive general liability, worker’s compensation and employer’s liability. We maintain insurance at levels we believe to be customary in the industry to limit our financial exposure in the event of a substantial environmental claim resulting from sudden, unanticipated and accidental discharges of certain prohibited substances into the environment. Such insurance might not cover the complete claim amount and would not cover fines or penalties for a violation of environmental law. We are not fully insured against all risks associated with our business either because such insurance is unavailable or because premium costs are considered uneconomic. A material loss not fully covered by insurance could have an adverse effect on our financial position, results of operations or cash flows.
Our operations and our ability to finance and fund our operations and growth are affected by political developments and laws and regulations in the areas in which we operate. In particular, crude oil and natural gas production operations and economics are affected by:
change in governments;
price and currency controls;
limitations on crude oil and natural gas production;
tax, environmental, safety and other laws relating to the petroleum industry;
changes in laws relating to the petroleum industry;
changes in administrative regulations and the interpretation and application of administrative rules and regulations; and
changes in contract interpretation and policies of contract adherence.
In any country in which we may do business, the crude oil and natural gas industry legislation and agency regulation are periodically changed, sometimes retroactively, for a variety of political, economic, environmental and other reasons. Numerous governmental departments and agencies issue rules and regulations binding on the crude oil and natural gas industry, some of which carry substantial penalties for the failure to comply. The regulatory burden on the crude oil and natural gas industry increases our cost of doing business and our potential for economic loss.
Our exploration and production activities offshore Gabon are subject to Gabonese regulations. Failure to comply with these laws and regulations may result in the suspension or termination of our operations and subject us to administrative, civil and criminal penalties. Moreover, these laws and regulations could change in ways that could substantially increase our costs or affect our operations. The following is a summary of certain applicable regulatory frameworks in Gabon.
2014 Hydrocarbons Law - Up until 2014, the fiscal and regulatory framework governing the exploration and production of hydrocarbons in Gabon was notably unregulated. Successive model contracts issued by the State of Gabon acted as guidelines; all fiscal aspects of each contract were negotiable between the State of Gabon and exploratory parties, including work commitments and exploration costs for each PSC.
In September 2014, Law No. 11/2014, of 28 August 2014, came into force in Gabon (“2014 Hydrocarbons Law”). The 2014 Hydrocarbons Law was not exhaustive; it sought to provide a framework of governing principles and rules, applicable to both the exploratory and extracting industry of hydrocarbons, as well as the downstream sector, to be complemented by implementing regulations.
Under the Gabonese Civil Code (“Civil Code”), laws will not have retroactive effects unless they expressly or tacitly provide otherwise. The Civil Code further provides that former laws continue to govern the effects of existing contracts, save in case of express or tacit derogation by the legislator and that, in any event, the application of a new law to existing contracts cannot modify the effects already produced by existing contracts under a former law, except via express derogation by the legislator.
The 2014 Hydrocarbons Law explicitly provided that establishment conventions, petroleum contracts, petroleum titles, mining concessions and exploitation permits concluded or granted by the State of Gabon prior to the date of its publication remained in force until their expiration date.
However, the 2014 Hydrocarbons Law further provided that unless such arrangements became consistent with the requirements of the 2014 Hydrocarbons Law, establishment conventions, mining concessions and exploitation permits in effect could not be extended or renewed. Furthermore, the 2014 Hydrocarbons Law prohibited establishment conventions and mining concessions, and provided that the exploitation of new discoveries in areas covered by existing conventions and concessions would be required to be made in accordance with the 2014 Hydrocarbons Law.
2019 Hydrocarbons Law - The 2014 Hydrocarbons Law was repealed in its entirety by Law No. 002/2019, of 16 July 2019, published on 22 July 2019 (“2019 Hydrocarbons Law”). As with the 2014 Hydrocarbons Law, the 2019 Hydrocarbons Law contains provisions applicable to both the upstream and downstream segments. However, despite the publication of the 2019 Hydrocarbons Law, there are various issues and matters yet to be fully enacted by implementing regulations.
Under the transitory provision contained in the 2019 Hydrocarbons Law, existing PSCs and other petroleum contracts, permits and authorizations remain in full force and effect until their expiration.
However, any renewal or extension of those instruments are subject to the provisions of the 2019 Hydrocarbons Law, and its implementing regulations.
The 2019 Hydrocarbons Law also provides for obligations for immediate application, irrespective of the date of signature of existing PSCs or petroleum contracts and/or granting of petroleum permits and authorizations. These include (i) the requirement for foreign producers and explorers applying for an exclusive development and production authorization to conduct their operations in Gabon through a company incorporated in Gabon rather than through branches of entities incorporated in other jurisdictions; and (ii) the obligation for all companies undertaking hydrocarbon activities to domicile their site rehabilitation funds with the Bank of Central African States, which is the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (“CEMAC”) or a Gabonese bank or financial institution subject to the Central Africa Banking Commission, which supervises banks and financial institutions licensed to operate in CEMAC countries, within one year after the entry into force of the 2019 Hydrocarbons Law.
PSCs entered into between independent contractors and the State of Gabon since the implementation of the 2019 Hydrocarbons Law must include a clause providing that participation by the State of Gabon cannot exceed a 10 percent participating interest in the operations, to be carried by the contractor.
The 2019 Hydrocarbons Law also entitles the Gabon Oil Company to acquire a maximum 15 percent stake at market value in all PSCs as of the date of signature.
In addition, the 2019 Hydrocarbons Law provides that the State of Gabon may acquire an equity stake of up to 10 percent, at market value, in an operator applying for or already holding an exclusive development and production authorization.
Our exploration and production activities in Equatorial Guinea are subject to the applicable regulations of the country. Failure to comply with these laws and regulations may result in the suspension or termination of our operations and subject us to administrative, civil and criminal penalties. Moreover, these laws and regulations could change in ways that could substantially increase our costs or affect our operations. The following is a summary of certain applicable regulatory frameworks in Equatorial Guinea.
All hydrocarbons existing in Equatorial Guinea’s onshore territory, as well as in its sovereign and jurisdictional waters, are Equatorial Guinea property and part of the public domain. The monetization of such hydrocarbons is to be pursued exclusively by Equatorial Guinea under its constitution, which reserves the exploitation of mineral and hydrocarbons resources exclusively to Equatorial Guinea and the public sector. However, the constitution also provides that Equatorial Guinea can delegate to, grant a concession to or associate itself with private parties for purposes of exploration and production activities in the manner and cases set forth by law.
Private crude oil companies have been allowed to conduct petroleum operations in Equatorial Guinea through PSCs signed by the minister responsible for petroleum operations on behalf of Equatorial Guinea. PSCs are subject to ratification by the President of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea and become effective only on the date the contractor is notified of presidential ratification. The powers to sign and amend PSCs and supervise their performance belong to the ministry responsible for petroleum operations. In addition, GEPetrol, holds, manages and takes participations in petroleum activities on behalf of Equatorial Guinea.
In 2006, the Parliament of Equatorial Guinea passed a new hydrocarbons law (“2006 Hydrocarbons Law”), which superseded the previous 1981 Hydrocarbons Law, as amended in 2000, incorporating not only the regime applicable to the exploration, appraisal, development and production of hydrocarbons, but also rules on their transportation, distribution, storage, preservation, decommissioning, refining, marketing, sale and other disposal. The Hydrocarbons Law contains provisions on a number of aspects concerning exploration and production operations and contracts, such as national content obligations, unitization, transfers and abandonment. The 2006 Hydrocarbons Law grants the ministry responsible for petroleum operations (“Ministry”) significantly broad regulatory, inspective and auditing powers concerning the performance of petroleum operations. These include the powers to
negotiate, sign, amend and perform all contracts entered into between the State of Equatorial Guinea and independent contractors, as well as the right to access all data and information required for the control of contractors and their activities, including free access to the locations and facilities where petroleum operations are conducted.
In addition, the Ministry can also order (i) the suspension of petroleum operations; (ii) the evacuation of persons from locations; (iii) the suspension of the use of any machine or equipment; and/or (iv) any other action it deems necessary or appropriate when the Ministry determines that a given petroleum operation may cause injury to or death of persons, damage properties, or harm the environment, or whenever the national interest so requires.
Until June 2016, the Ministry responsible for petroleum operations was the Ministry of Mines, Industry and Energy, whose organization and authority was granted under Decree No. 170/2005, of 15 August 2005.
In June 2016, the President of Equatorial Guinea appointed the EG MMH and the Minister of Industry and Energy, effectively splitting the Ministry of Mines, Industry and Energy into two Ministries. However, no legislation on the organization and authority of each Ministry has been enacted, and, in effect, the EG MMH has been exercising the powers contained within the Hydrocarbons Law to the Ministry responsible for petroleum operations.
All contracts signed with the State of Equatorial Guinea for the exploration and production of hydrocarbons have taken the form of PSCs. A model PSC, approved along with the Hydrocarbons Law, must be used as the basis for any negotiation between independent contractors and the State of Equatorial Guinea. Over time, however, revised copies of the model PSC, reflecting changes made during negotiations of certain PSCs, have been used for the negotiation of subsequent PSCs.
The Hydrocarbons Law and Petroleum Regulations provide the Ministry responsible for petroleum operations with the power to award contracts for the exploration and production of hydrocarbons, and decide whether the award is made by means of competitive international public tender or direct negotiation. These contracts, however, which are to be negotiated by the Ministry, shall only become effective after they have been ratified by the President of Equatorial Guinea and on the date of delivery to the contractor of a written notice of the President’s ratification. In practice, however, this notification to operators has been provided by the Ministry.
GEPetrol, established in 2001, is the national oil company of Equatorial Guinea and Sociedad Nacional de Gas de Guinea Equatorial (“Sonagas”), established in 2005, is the national gas company of Equatorial Guinea.
The Hydrocarbons Law provides that these national companies are exclusively owned by the State of Equatorial Guinea, and must be supervised by the Ministry responsible for petroleum operations.
Under the applicable laws, the State of Equatorial Guinea may elect to have, either directly or through a national company, a minimum interest of 20 percent in a PSC, although, to the Company’s knowledge, Sonagas does not hold any participating interest in a PSC in effect in Equatorial Guinea.
The State of Equatorial Guinea’s interest (through GEPetrol or otherwise) may be, and typically is, carried. No costs are paid by the State of Equatorial Guinea or GEPetrol with respect to a carried interest. The Hydrocarbons Law provides that the State of Equatorial Guinea (through GEPetrol or otherwise) will only be required to contribute to any cost for petroleum operations that it has a carried interest in from the period where it notifies the contractor that it no longer wants its interest carried. In effect, however, the carry normally ends with the approval of the development and production of the asset subject to the PSC.
The terms and effects of the carry of an interest of the State of Equatorial Guinea (through GEPetrol or otherwise) are not clearly established in the Hydrocarbons Law or the Petroleum Regulations; the contractor that carries the State of Equatorial Guinea’s interest is given the right to a percentage of the cost recovery oil pertaining to that interest, as agreed in each PSC.
Our operations are subject to various federal, state, local and international laws and regulations, including laws and regulations in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, governing the discharge of materials into the environment or otherwise relating to environmental protection or pollution control. The cost of compliance could be significant. Failure to comply with these laws and regulations may result in the assessment of administrative, civil and criminal penalties, the imposition of remedial and damage payment obligations, or the issuance of injunctive relief (including orders to cease operations). Environmental laws and regulations are complex and have tended to become more stringent over time. We also are subject to various environmental permit requirements. Some environmental laws and regulations may impose strict liability, which could subject us to liability for conduct that was lawful at the time it occurred or for conduct or conditions caused by prior operators or third parties. To the extent laws are enacted or other governmental action is taken that prohibits or restricts drilling or imposes environmental protection requirements that result in increased costs to the crude oil and natural gas industry in general, our business and financial results could be adversely affected. Although no assurances can be made, we believe that, absent the occurrence of an extraordinary event, compliance with existing laws, rules and regulations regulating the release of materials into the environment or otherwise relating to the protection of the environment will not have a material effect upon our capital expenditures, earnings or competitive position with respect to our existing assets and operations. We cannot predict,
however, what effect future environmental regulation or legislation, enforcement policies, or claims for damages to property, employees, other persons, the environment or natural resources could have on us.
In addition, a number of governmental bodies have adopted, have introduced or are contemplating regulatory changes in response to the potential impact of climate change and to the lobbying effects of various climate change non-governmental organizations. Legislation and increased regulation regarding climate change could impose significant costs on us, our venture joint owners, and our suppliers, including costs related to increased energy requirements, capital equipment, environmental monitoring and reporting, and other costs to comply with such regulations. Given the political significance and uncertainty around the impact of climate change and how it should be dealt with, we cannot predict how legislation and regulation will affect our financial condition and operating performance. In addition, increased awareness and any adverse publicity in the global marketplace about potential impacts on climate change by us or other companies in our industry could harm our reputation or impact the marketability of crude oil and natural gas. The potential physical impacts of climate change on our operations are highly uncertain and would be particular to the geographic circumstances in areas in which we operate. These may include changes in rainfall and storm patterns and intensities, water shortages, changing sea levels, and changing temperatures. These impacts may adversely impact the cost, production, and financial performance of our operations.
In part because they are developing countries, it is unclear how quickly and to what extent Gabon or Equatorial Guinea will increase their regulation of environmental issues in the future; any significant increase in the regulation or enforcement of environmental issues by Gabon or Equatorial Guinea could have a material effect on us. Developing countries, in certain instances, have patterned environmental laws after those in the U.S. However, the extent that any environmental laws are enforced in developing countries varies significantly.
With regards to our development operations offshore West Africa, we are a member of Oil Spill Response Limited (OSRL), a global emergency and crude oil spill-response organization headquartered in London. OSRL has aircraft and equipment available for dispersant application or equipment transport, including active recovery boom systems and other booms that can be used for offshore or shoreline responses. In addition, OSRL can provide communications equipment, safety equipment, transfer pumps, dispersant application systems, temporary storage equipment, generators, boats and vessels and oiled wildlife equipment.
See “Item 1A. Risk Factors” for further discussion on the impact of these and other regulations relating to environmental protection.
Item 1A. Risk Factors
Our business faces many risks. You should carefully consider the following risk factors in addition to the other information included in this Annual Report. If any of these risks or uncertainties actually occurs, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially adversely affected. Any risks discussed elsewhere in this Annual Report and in our other SEC filings could also have a material impact on our business, financial position or results of operations. Additional risks not presently known to us or that we consider immaterial based on information currently available to us may also materially adversely affect us.
Risks Related to Our Business
Crude oil and natural gas prices are highly volatile, and a return to a very depressed price regime for a prolonged period of time will negatively affect our financial results.
Our revenues, cash flow, profitability, crude oil and natural gas reserves value and future rate of growth are substantially dependent upon prevailing prices for crude oil and natural gas. Our ability to enter into debt financing arrangements and to obtain additional capital on reasonable terms is also substantially dependent on crude oil and natural gas prices. Historically, world-wide crude oil and natural gas prices and markets have been volatile and may continue to be volatile in the future. During 2017, the spot price per Bbl of Brent crude oil ranged from a high of $67 to a low of $44. During 2018, the spot price per Bbl of Brent crude oil ranged from a high of $86 to a low of $51. During 2019, the spot price per Bbl of Brent crude oil ranged from a high of $75 to a low of $53. The average price at which we sold our crude oil in 2019 was $65.20 per Bbl as compared to $70.32 per Bbl in 2018 and $52.58 per Bbl in 2017. In early March 2020, crude oil prices declined to below $40 per barrel for Brent crude as a result of market concerns about the ability of OPEC and Russia to agree on a perceived need to implement further production cuts in response to weaker worldwide demand. VAALCO intends to manage both operating expenses as well as capital expenditure levels in view of the existing and expected pricing environment. In addition, the Company continues to evaluate all uses of cash and whether to pursue growth opportunities in light of ongoing economic conditions.
Because the crude oil price we are required to use by the SEC to estimate our future net cash flows is the average of the first day of the month price over the 12 months prior to the date of determination of future net cash flows, the full effect of increasing or falling prices may not be reflected in our estimated net cash flows for several quarters. We review the carrying value of our properties on a quarterly basis and once incurred, a write-down in the carrying value of our properties is not reversible at a later date, even if crude oil and natural gas prices increase.
Prices for crude oil and natural gas are subject to wide fluctuations in response to relatively minor changes in the supply of and demand for crude oil and natural gas, market uncertainty and a variety of additional factors that are beyond our control. These factors include, but are not limited to, increases in supplies from U.S. shale production, international political conditions, including uprisings and political unrest in the Middle East and Africa, the domestic and foreign supply of crude oil and natural gas, actions by OPEC member countries and other state-controlled oil companies to agree upon and maintain crude oil price and production controls, the
level of consumer demand that is impacted by economic growth rates, weather conditions, domestic and foreign governmental regulations and taxes, the price and availability of alternative fuels, technological advances affecting energy consumption, the health of international economic and credit markets, changes in the level of demand resulting from global or national health epidemics and concerns, such as the recent coronavirus and general economic conditions. In addition, various factors, including the effect of federal, state and foreign regulation of production and transportation, general economic conditions, changes in supply due to drilling by other producers and changes in demand may adversely affect our ability to market our crude oil and natural gas production. Moreover, our commodity price hedging arrangements may not fully mitigate the effects volatility in crude oil and natural gas prices and may also curtail benefits from future increases in commodity prices.
In the event of depressed crude oil and natural gas prices, there is the risk that, among other things:
our revenues, cash flows and profitability may decline substantially, which could also indirectly impact expected production by reducing the amount of funds available to engage in exploration, drilling and production;
third parties’ confidence in our commercial or financial ability to explore and produce crude oil and natural gas could erode, which could impact our ability to execute on our business strategy;
it may become more difficult to retain, attract or replace key employees; and
our suppliers, hedge counterparties, vendors and service providers could renegotiate the terms of our arrangements, terminate their relationship with us or require financial assurances from us.
The occurrence of certain of these events may have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Unless we are able to replace the proved reserve quantities that we have produced through acquiring or developing additional reserves, our cash flows and production will decrease over time.
At December 31, 2019, we had no PUDS. As discussed above in “Item 1. Business — Segment and Geographic Information — Gabon Segment”, we commenced our 2019/2020 drilling program during September 2019.
Our future success depends upon our ability to find, develop or acquire additional crude oil and natural gas reserves that are economically recoverable. In general, production from crude oil and natural gas properties declines as reserves are depleted, with the rate of decline depending on reservoir characteristics. Our ability to make the necessary capital investment to maintain or expand our asset base of crude oil and natural gas reserves would be limited to the extent cash flow from operations is reduced and external sources of capital become limited or unavailable. We may not be successful in exploring for, developing or acquiring additional reserves. Except to the extent that we conduct successful exploration or development activities or acquire properties containing proved reserves, our estimated net proved reserves will generally decline as reserves are produced.
There can be no assurance that our development and exploration projects and acquisition activities will result in significant additional reserves or that we will have continuing success drilling productive wells at economic finding costs. The drilling of crude oil and natural gas wells involves a high degree of risk, especially the risk of dry holes or of wells that are not sufficiently productive to provide an economic return on the capital expended to drill the wells. Additionally, seismic and other technology does not allow us to know conclusively prior to drilling a well that crude oil or natural gas is present or economically producible. Our drilling operations may be curtailed, delayed or canceled as a result of numerous factors, including declines in crude oil or natural gas prices and/or prolonged periods of historically low crude oil and natural gas prices, weather conditions, political instability, availability of capital, economic/currency imbalances, compliance with governmental requirements, receipt of additional seismic data or the reprocessing of existing data, failure of wells drilled in similar formations, equipment failures (such as ESPs), delays in the delivery of equipment and availability of drilling rigs. If we are unable to increase our proved quantities, there will likely be a material impact on our cash flows, business and operations.
All of the value of our production and reserves is concentrated in a single block offshore Gabon, and any production problems or reductions in reserve estimates related to this property would adversely impact our business.
The Etame Marin block consists of five fields with 13 producing wells; however, one is currently temporarily shut-in pending workovers. Production from these fields constituted 100% of our total production for the year ended December 31, 2019. In addition, at December 31, 2019, 100% of our total reserves were attributable to these fields. If mechanical problems, storms or other events curtailed a substantial portion of this production, or if the actual reserves associated with this producing property are less than our estimated reserves, our results of operations, financial condition, and cash flows could be materially adversely affected.
Because our properties are concentrated in the same geographic area, many of our rights under the Etame PSC will be affected by the same conditions at the same time, resulting in a relatively greater impact on our results of operations than with respect to companies that have a more diversified portfolio of licenses and properties located across diverse geographic areas.
Exploring for, developing, or acquiring reserves is capital intensive and uncertain.
We may not be able to economically find, develop, or acquire additional reserves, or may not be able to make the necessary capital investments to develop our reserves, if our cash flows from operations decline or external sources of capital become limited or unavailable. Drilling activities are subject to many risks, including the risk that no commercially productive reservoirs will be
encountered. There can be no assurance that new wells drilled by us will be productive or that we will recover all or any portion of our investment. Drilling for crude oil and natural gas may involve unprofitable efforts, not only from dry wells, but also from wells that are productive but do not produce sufficient net revenues to return a profit after drilling, operating and other costs. The cost of drilling, completing and operating wells is often uncertain and cost overruns are common. In particular, offshore drilling and development operations require highly capital-intensive techniques.
Our drilling operations may be curtailed, delayed or canceled as a result of numerous factors, many of which are beyond our control, including weather conditions, equipment failures or accidents, elevated pressure or irregularities in geologic formations, compliance with governmental requirements and shortages or delays in the delivery of equipment and services. If we are unable to continue drilling operations and we do not replace the reserves we produce or acquire additional reserves, our reserves revenues and cash flow will decrease over time, which could have a material effect on our ability to continue as a going concern.
Our business requires significant capital expenditures, and we may not be able to obtain needed capital or financing to fund our exploration and development activities or potential acquisitions on satisfactory terms or at all.
Our exploration and development activities as well as our active pursuit of complementary opportunistic acquisitions are capital intensive. To replace and grow our reserves, we must make substantial capital expenditures for the acquisition, exploitation, development, exploration and production of crude oil and natural gas reserves. Historically, we have financed these expenditures primarily with cash flow from operations, debt, asset sales, and private sales of equity. We are the operator of the Etame Marin block offshore Gabon, and are thus responsible for contracting on behalf of all the remaining parties participating in the project. We rely on the timely payment of cash calls by our joint owners to pay for 66.43% of the offshore Gabon budget. With respect to Block P, the EG MMH approved our appointment as technical operator on November 12, 2019. Since we have been appointed, we will rely on the timely payment of cash calls by our joint owners to pay for 61% of the Equatorial Guinea budget. The continued economic health of our joint owners could be adversely affected by low crude oil prices, thereby adversely affecting their ability to make timely payment of cash calls.
If low crude oil and natural gas prices, operating difficulties or declines in reserves result in our revenues being less than expected or limit our ability to enter into debt financing arrangements, or our joint owners fail to pay their share of project costs, we may be unable to obtain or expend the capital necessary to undertake or complete future drilling programs or to acquire additional reserves.
We do not currently have any commitments for future external funding for capital expenditures or acquisitions beyond cash generated from operating activities. Our ability to secure additional or replacement financing is currently limited. We cannot assure you that additional debt or equity financing or cash generated by operations will be available to meet our capital requirements and fund acquisitions. We may not be able to obtain debt or equity financing on terms favorable to us, or at all. Even if we succeed in selling additional equity securities to raise funds, at such time the ownership percentage of our existing stockholders would be diluted, and new investors may demand rights, preferences or privileges senior to those of existing shareholders. If we raise additional capital through debt financing, the financing may involve covenants that restrict our business activities or our ability to make future acquisitions. If cash generated by operations or cash available under any financing sources is not sufficient to meet our capital requirements, the failure to obtain additional financing could result in a curtailment of our operations relating to the development of our properties or prevent us from consummating acquisitions of additional reserves. Such a curtailment in operations or activities could lead to a decline in our estimated net proved reserves, and would likely materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
If crude oil and natural gas prices decline materially, we may be required to take write-downs in the value of our crude oil and natural gas properties.
The estimated future net revenues attributable to our net proved reserves are prepared in accordance with current SEC guidelines and are not intended to reflect the fair market value of our reserves. In accordance with the rules of the SEC, our reserve estimates are prepared using the average price received for crude oil and natural gas based on closing prices of the average of the first day of the month price over the twelve-month period prior to the end of the reporting period. During 2019, 2018 and 2017, no impairments were necessary with respect to the Etame Marin block. Material declines in crude oil prices will cause the estimated quantities and present values of our reserves to be reduced, which may necessitate write-downs. Material declines in crude oil prices could also cause a decline in the estimated fair value and/or the economic viability of projects associated with our undeveloped leasehold costs for the Etame Marin block and the Equatorial Guinea Block P resulting in write-downs of these costs. In early March 2020, crude oil prices declined to below $40 per barrel for Brent crude as a result of market concerns about the ability of OPEC and Russia to agree on a perceived need to implement further production cuts in response to weaker worldwide demand. If at March 31, 2020 prices remain at this level or decline further, we may be required to take write-downs in the value of our crude oil and natural gas properties.
Our offshore operations involve special risks that could adversely affect our results of operations.
Offshore operations are subject to a variety of operating risks specific to the marine environment. Our production facilities are subject to hazards such as capsizing, sinking, grounding, collision and damage from severe weather conditions. The relatively deep offshore drilling conducted by us involves increased drilling risks of high pressures and mechanical difficulties, including stuck pipe, collapsed casing and separated cable. The impact that any of these risks may have upon us is increased due to the low number of producing properties we own. We could incur substantial expenses that could reduce or eliminate the funds available for exploration, development or license acquisitions, or result in loss of equipment and license interests.
Exploration and development operations offshore Africa often lack the physical and oilfield service infrastructure present in other regions. As a result, a significant amount of time may elapse between an offshore discovery and the marketing of the associated crude oil and natural gas, increasing both the financial and operational risks involved with these operations. Offshore drilling operations generally require more time and more advanced drilling technologies, involving a higher risk of equipment failure and usually higher drilling costs. In addition, there may be production risks for which we are currently unaware. For example, the production of hydrogen sulfide at certain of our Etame Marin block wells create unexpected production losses and delays in our development plans; see “Item 1. Business – Segment and Geographic Information – Hydrogen Sulfide Impact.” The development of new subsea infrastructure and use of floating production systems to transport crude oil from producing wells, may require substantial time for installation or encounter mechanical difficulties and equipment failures that could result in loss of production, significant liabilities, cost overruns or delays.
In addition, in the event of a well control incident, containment and, potentially, cleanup activities for offshore drilling are costly. The resulting regulatory costs or penalties, and the results of third party lawsuits, as well as associated legal and support expenses, including costs to address negative publicity, could well exceed the actual costs of containment and cleanup. As a result, a well control incident could result in substantial liabilities for us, and have a significant negative impact on our earnings, cash flows, liquidity, financial position, and stock price.
We have less control over our investments in foreign properties than we would have with respect to domestic investments, and added risk in foreign countries may affect our foreign investments.
Our international assets and operations are subject to various political, economic and other uncertainties, including, among other things, the risks of war, expropriation, nationalization, renegotiation or nullification of existing contracts, taxation policies, foreign exchange restrictions, changing political conditions, international monetary fluctuations, currency controls, decisions of international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, CEMAC and the Banking Commission of Central Africa, changes in laws and regulations relating to banking institutions and deposit accounts, requirements to hold funds in government-owned banks and the risk of foreign banking institution failure, possible changes in government personnel, the development of new administrative policies, practices and political conditions that may affect the enforcement or administration of laws and regulations, adoption of new or amendments to regulatory regimes for foreign investment, uncertainties as to whether the laws and regulations will be applicable in any particular circumstance, uncertainty as to whether VAALCO will be able to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the applicable governing authorities, compliance with governmental or contractual requirements and foreign governmental regulations that favor or require the awarding of drilling contracts to local contractors or require foreign contractors to employ citizens of, or purchase supplies from, a particular jurisdiction.
For example, the Gabonese government’s oil company may seek to participate in crude oil and natural gas projects in a manner that could be dilutive to the interest of current license holders and the Gabonese government is under pressure from the Gabonese labor union to require companies to hire a higher percentage of Gabonese citizens. In 2016, the government of Gabon conducted an audit of our operations in Gabon, covering the years 2013 through 2014. We received the findings from this audit and responded to the audit findings in January 2017. Since providing our response, there have been changes in the Gabonese officials responsible for the audit. We are working with the current representatives to resolve the audit findings. While we do not anticipate that the assessments related to this audit will have significant, if any, negative impact on our reported earnings or cash flows, we can make no assurances that this will be the case. In addition, if a dispute arises with our foreign operations, we may be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of foreign courts or may not be successful in subjecting foreign persons, especially foreign crude oil ministries and national oil companies, to the jurisdiction of the U.S.
As part of securing the first of two five-year extensions to the Etame PSC, we agreed to a cash funding arrangement for the eventual abandonment of all offshore wells, platforms and facilities on the Etame Marin block. On March 5, 2019, in accordance with certain foreign currency regulatory requirements, the Gabonese branch of the international commercial bank holding the abandonment funds in a U.S. dollar denominated account transferred the funds to the CEMAC, of which Gabon is one of the six member states. The U.S. dollars were converted to local currency with a credit back to the Gabonese branch. The Etame PSC provides these payments must be denominated in U.S. dollars and the CEMAC regulations provide for establishment of a U.S. dollar account with the Central Bank. Although we have requested establishment of such account, the Central Bank has not complied with our requests. As a result, we were not able to make the annual abandonment funding payment in 2019. Pursuant to Amendment No. 5 to the Etame PSC, in the event that the Gabonese bank fails for any reason to reimburse all of the principal and interest due, we shall no longer be held liable for the resulting shortfall in funding the obligation to remediate the sites. For additional information, see “–Our results of operations, financial conditions and cash flows could be adversely affected by changes in currency exchange rates and regulations.”
Private ownership of crude oil and natural gas reserves under crude oil and natural gas leases in the U.S. differs distinctly from our rights in foreign reserves where the state generally retains ownership of the minerals, and in many cases participates in, the exploration and production of hydrocarbon reserves. Accordingly, operations outside the U.S. may be materially affected by host governments through royalty payments, export taxes and regulations, surcharges, value added taxes, production bonuses and other charges.
For instance, the terms of the Etame PSC include provisions for, among other things, payments to the government of Gabon for a 13% royalty interest based on crude oil production at published prices and payments for a shared portion of “profit oil”, based on daily production rates, which such “profit oil” can be taken in-kind through taking crude oil barrels rather than making cash payments.
All of our proved reserves are related to the Etame Marin block located offshore Gabon. We have operated in Gabon since 1995 and believe we have good relations with the current Gabonese government. However, there can be no assurance that present or future administrations or governmental regulations in Gabon will not materially adversely affect our operations or cash flows.
Acquisitions and divestitures of properties and businesses may subject us to additional risks and uncertainties, including that acquired assets may not produce as projected, may subject us to additional liabilities and may not be successfully integrated with our business. In addition, any sales or divestments of properties we make may result in certain liabilities that we are required to retain under the terms of such sales or divestments.
One of our growth strategies is to capitalize on opportunistic acquisitions of crude oil and natural gas reserves and/or the companies that own them and other strategic transactions that fit within our overall business strategy. Any future acquisition will require an assessment of recoverable reserves, title, future crude oil and natural gas prices, operating costs, potential environmental hazards, potential tax and employer liabilities, regulatory requirements and other liabilities and similar factors. Ordinarily, our review efforts are focused on the higher valued properties and are inherently incomplete because it generally is not feasible to review in depth every potential liability on each individual property involved in each acquisition. Even a detailed review of records and properties may not necessarily reveal existing or potential problems, nor will it permit a buyer to become sufficiently familiar with the properties to assess fully their deficiencies and potential. Inspections may not always be performed on every well, and potential problems, such as ground water contamination and other environmental conditions and deficiencies in the mechanical integrity of equipment are not necessarily observable even when an inspection is undertaken. Any unidentified problems could result in material liabilities and costs that negatively impact our financial condition.
Additional potential risks related to acquisitions include, among other things:
incorrect assumptions regarding the reserves, future production and revenues, or future operating or development costs with respect to the acquired properties, as well as future prices of crude oil and natural gas;
decreased liquidity as a result of using a significant portion of our cash from operations or borrowing capacity to finance acquisitions;
significant increases in our interest expense or financial leverage if we incur additional debt to finance acquisitions;
the assumption of unknown liabilities, losses or costs (including potential regulatory actions) that we are not indemnified for or that our indemnity, insurance or other protection is inadequate to protect against potential losses;
an increase in our costs or a decrease in our revenues associated with any claims or disputes with governments or other interest owners;
an incurrence of non-cash charges in connection with an acquisition and the potential future impairment of goodwill or intangible assets acquired in an acquisition;
the risk that crude oil and natural gas reserves acquired may not be of the anticipated magnitude or may not be developed as anticipated;
difficulties in the assimilation of the assets and operations of the acquired business, especially if the assets acquired are in a new business segment or geographic area;
the diversion of management’s attention from other business concerns during the acquisition and throughout the integration process;
losses of key employees at the acquired businesses;
difficulties in operating a significantly larger combined organization and adding operations;
delays in achieving the expected synergies from acquisitions;
the failure to realize expected profitability or growth;
the failure to realize expected synergies and cost savings; and
challenges in coordinating or consolidating corporate and administrative functions.
If we consummate any future acquisitions, our capitalization and results of operations may change significantly and you may not have the opportunity to evaluate the economic, financial and other relevant information that we will consider in evaluating future acquisitions. In addition, acquisitions of businesses often require the approval of certain government or regulatory agencies and such approval could contain terms, conditions, or restrictions that would be detrimental to our business after a merger.
In the case of sales or divestitures of our properties and businesses, we may become exposed to future liabilities that arise under the terms of those sales or divestitures. Under such terms, sellers typically are required to retain certain liabilities for matters with respect to their sold properties or businesses. The magnitude of any such retained liability or indemnification obligation may be difficult to quantify at the time of the transaction and ultimately may be material. Also, as is typical in divestiture transactions, third parties may be unwilling to release us from guarantees or other credit support provided prior to the sale of the divested assets. As a result, after a sale, we may remain secondarily liable for the obligations guaranteed or supported to the extent that the buyer of the assets fails to perform these obligations. In addition, we may be required to recognize losses in accordance with exit or disposal activities.
We may experience a financial loss if our significant customer fails to pay us for our crude oil or natural gas or reduces the volume of crude oil and natural gas that they purchase from us.
Our ability to collect payments from the sale of crude oil and natural gas to our customer depends on the payment ability of our customer base, which includes several significant customers. If our significant customer fails to pay us for any reason or letters of credit are insufficient or unavailable to mitigate the risk of nonpayment from our significant customer, we could experience a material loss. In addition, if our significant customer ceases to purchase our crude oil or natural gas or reduce the volume of the crude oil or natural gas that they purchase from us, the loss or reduction could have a detrimental effect on our production volumes and may cause a temporary interruption in sales of, or a lower price for, our crude oil and natural gas.
Our operations may be adversely affected by violent acts such as from civil disturbances, terrorist acts, regime changes, cross-border violence, war, piracy, or other conflicts that may occur in regions that encompass our operations.
Violent acts resulting in loss of life, destruction of property, environmental damage and pollution occur around the world. Many incidents are driven by civil, ethnic, religious or economic strife. In addition, the number of incidents attributed to various terrorist organizations has increased significantly. We operate in regions of the world that have experienced such incidents or are in close proximity to areas where violence has occurred.
We monitor the economic and political environments of the countries that we operate. However, we are unable to predict the occurrence of disturbances such as those noted above. In addition, we have limited ability to mitigate their impact.
Civil disturbances, terrorist acts, regime changes, coups, wars, or conflicts, or the threats thereof, could have the following results, among others:
volatility in global crude oil prices, which could negatively impact the global economy, resulting in slower economic growth rates, which could reduce demand for our products;
negative impact on the world crude oil supply if infrastructure or transportation are disrupted, leading to further commodity price volatility;
difficulty in attracting and retaining qualified personnel to work in areas with potential for conflict;
inability of our personnel or supplies to enter or exit the countries where we are conducting operations;
disruption of our operations due to evacuation of personnel;
inability to deliver our production due to disruption or closing of transportation routes;
reduced ability to export our production due to efforts of countries to conserve domestic resources;
damage to or destruction of our wells, production facilities, receiving terminals or other operating assets;
the incurrence of significant costs for security personnel and systems;
damage to or destruction of property belonging to our commodity purchasers leading to interruption of deliveries, claims of force majeure, and/or termination of commodity sales contracts, resulting in a reduction in our revenues;
inability of our service and equipment providers to deliver items necessary for us to conduct our operations resulting in a halt or delay in our planned exploration activities, delayed development of major projects, or shut-in of producing fields;
lack of availability of drilling rig, oilfield equipment or services if third party providers decide to exit the region;
the imposition of U.S. government or international sanctions that limit our ability to conduct our business;
shutdown of a financial system, communications network, or power grid causing a disruption to our business activities; and
capital market reassessment of risk and reduction of available capital making it more difficult for us and our joint owners to obtain financing for potential development projects.
Loss of property and/or interruption of our business plans resulting from civil unrest could have a significant negative impact on our earnings and cash flows. In addition, we may not have enough insurance to cover any loss of property or other claims resulting from these risks. If any violent action causes us to become involved in a dispute, we may be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of courts outside the United States or may not be successful in subjecting non-U.S. persons to the jurisdiction of courts in the United States or international arbitration, which could adversely affect the outcome of such dispute.
Our business could be materially and adversely affected by security threats, including cybersecurity threats, and other disruptions.
As a crude oil producer, we face various security threats, including cybersecurity threats to gain unauthorized access to sensitive information or to render data or systems unusable; threats to the security of our facilities and infrastructure or third party facilities and infrastructure, such as processing plants and pipelines; and threats from terrorist acts. The potential for such security threats has subjected our operations to increased risks that could have a material adverse effect on our business. In particular, our implementation of various procedures and controls to monitor and mitigate security threats and to increase security for our information, facilities and infrastructure may result in increased capital and operating costs. Costs for insurance may also increase as a result of security threats, and some insurance coverage may become more difficult to obtain, if available at all. Moreover, there can be no assurance that such procedures
and controls will be sufficient to prevent security breaches from occurring. If any of these security breaches were to occur, they could lead to losses of sensitive information, critical infrastructure or capabilities essential to our operations and could have a material adverse effect on our reputation, financial position, results of operations and cash flows.
Cybersecurity attacks in particular are becoming more sophisticated. We rely extensively on information technology systems, including internet sites, computer software, and data hosting facilities and other hardware and platforms, some of which are hosted by third parties, to assist in conducting our business. Our technologies systems and networks, and those of our business associates may become the target of cybersecurity attacks, including without limitation malicious software, attempts to gain unauthorized access to data and systems, and other electronic security breaches that could lead to disruptions in critical systems and materially and adversely affect us in a variety of ways, including the following:
unauthorized access to and release of seismic data, reserves information, strategic information or other sensitive or proprietary information, which could have a material adverse effect on our ability to compete for crude oil and gas resources;
data corruption, communication interruption, or other operational disruption during drilling activities could result in failure to reach the intended target or a drilling incident;
data corruption or operational disruption of production infrastructure, which could result in loss of production or accidental discharge;
unauthorized access to and release of personal identifying information of employees and vendors, which could expose us to allegations that we did not sufficiently protect that information;
a cybersecurity attack on a vendor or service provider, which could result in supply chain disruptions and could delay or halt operations;
a cybersecurity attack on third-party gathering, transportation, processing, fractionation, refining or export facilities, which could delay or prevent us from transporting and marketing our production, resulting in a loss of revenues;
a cybersecurity attack involving commodities exchanges or financial institutions could slow or halt commodities trading, thus preventing us from marketing our production or engaging in hedging activities, resulting in a loss of revenues; and
business interruptions, including use of social engineering schemes and/or ransomware, could result in expensive remediation efforts, distraction of management, damage to our reputation, or a negative impact on the price of our common stock.
To protect against such attempts of unauthorized access or attack, we have implemented multiple layers of cybersecurity protections, infrastructure protection technologies, disaster recovery plans and employee training. While we have invested significant amounts in the protection of our technology systems and maintain what we believe are adequate security controls over sensitive data, there can be no guarantee such plans, to the extent they are in place, will be effective.
Any cyber incident could damage our reputation and lead to financial losses from remedial actions, loss of business or potential liability. Additionally, certain cyber incidents, such as surveillance, may remain undetected for an extended period.
Competitive industry conditions may negatively affect our ability to conduct operations.
The crude oil and natural gas industry is intensely competitive. We compete with, and may be outbid by, competitors in our attempts to acquire exploration and production rights in crude oil and natural gas properties. These properties include exploration prospects as well as properties with proved reserves. There is also competition for contracting for drilling equipment and the hiring of experienced personnel. Factors that affect our ability to compete in the marketplace include, among other things:
our access to the capital necessary to drill wells and acquire properties;
our ability to acquire and analyze seismic, geological and other information relating to a property;
our ability to retain and hire experienced personnel, especially for our engineering, geoscience and accounting departments; and
the location of, and our ability to access, platforms, pipelines and other facilities used to produce and transport crude oil and natural gas production.
Our competitors include major integrated oil companies and substantial independent energy companies, many of which possess greater financial, technological, personnel and other resources than we do. These companies may be better able to: competitively bid for and purchase crude oil and natural gas properties; evaluate, bid for and purchase a greater number of properties than our financial or human resources permit; continue drilling during periods of low crude oil and natural gas prices; contract for drilling equipment; and secure trained personnel. Our competitors may also use superior technology that we may be unable to afford or that would require costly investment by us in order to compete.
Competition due to advances in renewable fuels may lessen the demand for our products and negatively impact our profitability.
Alternatives to petroleum-based products and production methods are continually under development. For example, a number of automotive, industrial and power generation manufacturers are developing alternative clean power systems using fuel cells or clean-burning gaseous fuels that may address increasing worldwide energy costs, the long-term availability of petroleum reserves and
environmental concerns, which if successful could lower the demand for crude oil and natural gas. If these non-petroleum based products and crude oil alternatives continue to expand and gain broad acceptance such that the overall demand for crude oil and natural gas is decreased, it could have an adverse effect on our operations and the value of our assets.
Weather, unexpected subsurface conditions and other unforeseen operating hazards may adversely impact our crude oil and natural gas activities.
The crude oil and natural gas business involves a variety of operating risks, including fire, explosions, blow-outs, pipe failure, casing collapse, abnormally pressured formations and environmental hazards such as crude oil spills, natural gas leaks, ruptures and discharges of toxic gases, underground migration and surface spills or mishandling of fracture fluids including chemical additives, the occurrence of any of which could result in substantial losses to us due to injury and loss of life, severe damage to and destruction of property, natural resources and equipment, pollution and other environmental damage, clean-up responsibilities, regulatory investigation and penalties and suspension of operations.
We maintain insurance against some, but not all, potential risks; however, there can be no assurance that such insurance will be adequate to cover any losses or exposure for liability. The occurrence of a significant unfavorable event not fully covered by insurance could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. Furthermore, we cannot predict whether insurance will continue to be available at a reasonable cost or at all.
The physical and regulatory impact of climate change could disrupt our business and cause us to incur significant costs in preparing for or responding to their effects.
Climate change could have an effect on the severity of weather (including hurricanes and floods), sea levels, the arability of farmland, and water availability and quality. If such effects were to occur, our exploration and production operations have the potential to be adversely affected. Potential adverse effects could include damages to our facilities from powerful winds or rising waters in low-lying areas, disruption of our production activities because of climate-related damages to our facilities, less efficient or non-routine operating practices necessitated by climate effects or increased costs for insurance coverages in the aftermath of such effects. Significant physical effects of climate change could also have an indirect effect on our financing and operations by disrupting the transportation or process-related services provided by midstream companies, service companies or suppliers with whom we have a business relationship. We may not be able to recover through insurance some or any of the damages, losses or costs that may result from potential physical effects of climate change.
In addition, we expect continued and increasing regulatory attention to climate change issues and emissions of greenhouse gases, including methane (a primary component of natural gas) and carbon dioxide (a byproduct of crude oil and natural gas combustion). For example, in April 2016, 195 nations, including Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and the U.S., signed and officially entered into an international climate change accord (the “Paris Agreement”). The Paris Agreement calls for signatory countries to set their own greenhouse gas emissions targets, make these emissions targets more stringent over time and be transparent about the greenhouse gas emissions reporting and the measures each country will use to achieve its greenhouse gas targets. A long-term goal of the Paris Agreement is to limit global temperature increase to well below two degrees Celsius from temperatures in the pre-industrial era. The Paris Agreement is effectively a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol treaty, an international treaty aimed at reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, to which various countries and regions are parties. It cannot be determined at this time what effect the Paris Agreement, and any related greenhouse gas emissions targets, regulations or other requirements, will have on our business, results of operations and financial condition. It also cannot be determined what impact the U.S.'s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement will have on international climate change regulation. This regulatory uncertainty, however, could result in a disruption to our business or operations.
We may not have enough insurance to cover all of the risks we face and operators of prospects in which we participate may not maintain or may fail to obtain adequate insurance.
Our business is subject to all of the operating risks normally associated with the exploration for and production, gathering, processing, and transportation of crude oil and natural gas, including blowouts, cratering and fire, any of which could result in damage to, or destruction of, crude oil and natural gas wells or formations, production facilities, and other property, as well as injury to persons. For protection against financial loss resulting from these operating hazards, we maintain insurance coverage, including insurance coverage for certain physical damage, blowout/control of a well, comprehensive general liability, worker’s compensation and employer’s liability. However, our insurance coverage may not be sufficient to cover us against 100% of potential losses arising as a result of the foregoing, and for certain risks, such as political risk, nationalization, business interruption, war, terrorism, and piracy, for which we have limited or no coverage. In addition, we are not insured against all risks in all aspects of our business, such as hurricanes. The occurrence of a significant event that we are not fully insured against could have a material adverse effect on our consolidated financial position, results of operations, or cash flows.
Our reserve information represents estimates that may turn out to be incorrect if the assumptions that these estimates are based are inaccurate. Any material inaccuracies in these reserve estimates or underlying assumptions will materially affect the quantities and present values of our reserves.
There are numerous uncertainties inherent in estimating quantities of proved crude oil and natural gas reserves, including many factors beyond our control. Reserve engineering is a subjective process of estimating the underground accumulations of crude oil and natural gas that cannot be measured in an exact manner. The estimates included in this document are based on various assumptions required
by the SEC, including non-escalated prices and costs and capital expenditures subsequent to December 31, 2019, and, therefore, are inherently imprecise indications of future net revenues. Actual future production, revenues, taxes, operating expenses, development expenditures and quantities of recoverable crude oil and natural gas reserves may vary substantially from those assumed in the estimates. Any significant variance in these assumptions could materially affect the estimated quantity and value of our reserves.
In addition, our reserves may be subject to downward or upward revision based upon production history, results of future development, availability of funds to acquire additional reserves, prevailing crude oil and natural gas prices and other factors. Moreover, the calculation of the estimated present value of the future net revenue using a 10% discount rate as required by the SEC is not necessarily the most appropriate discount factor based on interest rates in effect from time to time and risks associated with our reserves or the crude oil and natural gas industry in general. It is also possible that reserve engineers may make different estimates of reserves and future net revenues based on the same available data.
The estimated future net revenues attributable to our net proved reserves are prepared in accordance with current SEC guidelines, and are not intended to reflect the fair market value of our reserves. In accordance with the rules of the SEC, our reserve estimates are prepared using an average of the first day of the month prices received for crude oil and natural gas for the preceding twelve months. Future reductions in prices, below the average calculated for 2019, would result in the estimated quantities and present values of our reserves being reduced.
Our proved reserves are in foreign countries and are or will be subject to service contracts, production sharing contracts and other arrangements. The quantity of crude oil and natural gas that we will ultimately receive under these arrangements will differ based on numerous factors, including the price of crude oil and natural gas, production rates, production costs, cost recovery provisions and local tax and royalty regimes. Changes in many of these factors could affect the estimates of proved reserves in foreign jurisdictions.
Our results of operations, financial condition and cash flows could be adversely affected by changes in currency exchange rates and by currency regulations.
We are exposed to foreign currency risk from our foreign operations. While crude oil sales are denominated in U.S. dollars, portions of our costs in Gabon are denominated in the local currency. A weakening U.S. dollar will have the effect of increasing costs while a strengthening U.S. dollar will have the effect of reducing operating costs. The Gabon local currency is tied to the Euro. The exchange rate between the Euro and the U.S. dollar has fluctuated widely in recent years in response to international political conditions, general economic conditions, the European sovereign debt crisis and other factors beyond our control. Our financial statements, presented in U.S. dollars, may be affected by foreign currency fluctuations through both translation risk and transaction risk. In addition, currency devaluation can result in a loss to us for any deposits of that currency, such as our deposits in the Etame PSC abandonment account, which have been converted from U.S. dollar to Gabon local currency. See the risk factor “We have less control over our investments in foreign properties than we would have with respect to domestic investments, and added risk in foreign countries may affect our foreign investments.” Hedging foreign currencies can be difficult, especially if the currency is not actively traded.
We are also subject to risks relating to governmental regulation of foreign currency, which may limit our ability to:
transfer funds from or convert currencies in certain countries;
repatriate foreign currency received in excess of local currency requirements; and
repatriate funds held by our foreign subsidiaries to the U.S. at favorable tax rates.
We have been, and in the future may become, involved in legal proceedings with governmental and private litigants, and, as a result, may incur substantial costs in connection with those proceedings.
Our business subjects us to liability risks from litigation or government actions. From time to time we may be a defendant or plaintiff in various lawsuits. The nature of our operations exposes us to further possible litigation claims in the future. There is risk that any matter in litigation could be decided unfavorably against us regardless of our belief, opinion, and position, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows. Litigation can be very costly, and the costs associated with defending litigation could also have a material adverse effect on our results of operation, net cash flows and financial condition. Adverse litigation decisions or rulings may also damage our business reputation.
Often, our operations are conducted through joint ventures that we may have limited influence and control. Private litigation or government proceedings brought against us could also result in significant delays in our operations.
Compliance with environmental and other government regulations could be costly and could negatively impact production.
The laws and regulations of the U.S., Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea regulate our current business. These laws and regulations may require that we obtain permits for our development activities, limit or prohibit drilling activities in certain protected or sensitive areas, or restrict the substances that can be released in connection with our operations. Our operations could result in liability for personal injuries, property damage, natural resource damages, crude oil spills, discharge of hazardous materials, remediation and clean-up costs and other environmental damages. Failure to comply with environmental laws and regulations may trigger a variety of administrative, civil and criminal enforcement measures, including the assessment of monetary penalties and the issuance of orders enjoining operations. In addition, we could be liable for environmental damages caused by, among others, previous property owners or operators of properties that we purchase or lease. Some environmental laws provide for joint and several strict liabilities for remediation of releases of hazardous substances, rendering a person liable for environmental damage without regard to negligence or fault on the part
of such person. As a result, we may incur substantial liabilities to third parties or governmental entities and may be required to incur substantial remediation costs. We could also be affected by more stringent laws and regulations adopted in the future, including any related to climate change and greenhouse gases and the use of hydraulic fracturing fluids, resulting in increased operating costs. As a result, substantial liabilities to third parties or governmental entities may be incurred, the payment of which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations and liquidity.
These laws and governmental regulations, which cover matters including drilling operations, taxation and environmental protection, may be changed from time to time in response to economic or political conditions and could have a significant impact on our operating costs, as well as the crude oil and natural gas industry in general. While we believe that we are currently in compliance with environmental laws and regulations applicable to our operations, no assurances can be given that we will be able to continue to comply with such environmental laws and regulations without incurring substantial costs.
If our assumptions underlying accruals for abandonment costs are too low, we could be required to expend greater amounts than expected.
Almost all of our properties, which have future abandonment obligations, are located offshore. The costs to abandon offshore wells may be substantial. For financial accounting purposes, we record the fair value of a liability for an asset retirement obligation in the period that it is incurred and capitalize the related costs as part of the carrying amount of the long-lived assets. The estimated liability is reflected in the “Asset retirement obligation” line item of our consolidated balance sheets.
As part of the Etame Marin block production license, we are subject to an agreed upon cash funding arrangement for the eventual abandonment of all offshore wells, platforms and facilities on the Etame Marin block. Based upon the most recent abandonment study completed in November 2018, the abandonment cost estimate used for this purpose is approximately $61.8 million ($19.2 million net to VAALCO) on an undiscounted basis. On an annual basis over the remaining life of the production license, we must fund a portion of these estimated abandonment costs. See “Item 1. Business – Segment and Geographic Information – Gabon Segment —Abandonment Costs,” for further information. Future changes to the anticipated abandonment cost estimates could change our asset retirement obligations and increase the amount of future abandonment funding payments we are obligated to make.
We operate in international jurisdictions, and we could be adversely affected by violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and similar worldwide anti-corruption laws.
The U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and similar worldwide anti-corruption laws generally prohibit companies and their intermediaries from making improper payments to government and other officials for the purpose of obtaining or retaining business. Our internal policies mandate compliance with these anti-corruption laws. Despite our training and compliance programs, we cannot be assured that our internal control policies and procedures will always protect us from acts of corruption committed by our employees or agents. Any additional expansion outside the U.S., including in developing countries, could increase the risk of such violations in the future. Violations of these laws, or allegations of such violations, could disrupt our business and result in a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
Our operations may be adversely affected by political, social and economic instability of the region in which we operate.
We operate in countries that have experienced political, social and economic instability or are in close proximity to areas where such events have and continue to occur. In Gabon, allegations of voting irregularities were reported after the most recent presidential elections in August 2016. The contested re-election of Ali Bongo triggered protests and violence between supporters of the opposition candidate, Jean Ping, who declared himself the victor, and government security forces. This public unrest included arson of the Lower House of Parliament, damage of private property and damage to the headquarters of the opposition party. On January 7, 2019, a group of five Gabonese soldiers briefly took control of the Gabon Television headquarters. Government security forces regained control of the broadcasting headquarters the same day and the state’s operations returned to normal the next day. Mr. Bongo suffered a stroke during an official visit to Saudi Arabia in October 2018 after which he has spent extensive periods recuperating outside of Gabon. Mr. Bongo has since returned to Gabon to fulfill his role as president.
Since 2017, Gabonese employee unions in the judicial administration, tax administration and other financial institutions have declared a succession of strikes. These strikes have caused various administrative delays.
In Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo has been President since 1979. There have been several attempted coups in recent history, notably in 2002, 2004 and 2009, when the Presidential Palace allegedly came under attack. In January 2018, the authorities claimed to have thwarted an attempted coup the previous month.
Since 2006, the President of Equatorial Guinea has changed Government appointments every two or three years. In May 2018, the Supreme Court upheld a ban on the country’s main opposition party, the CI Party, which was accused of involvement in acts of violence ahead of elections held in November 2017.
While we monitor the economic and political environments of the countries in which we operate, loss of property and/or interruption of our business plans resulting from civil unrest could have a significant negative impact on our earnings and cash flow. In addition, we may not have enough insurance to cover any loss of property or other claims resulting from these risks.
We operate in countries and regions that are subject to legal and regulatory risk.
Investment in companies with assets in developing countries is generally only suitable for sophisticated investors who fully appreciate the significance of the risks involved in, and are familiar with, investing in developing countries. Investors should also note that developing countries could be subject to rapid change and that the information set out in this document may become outdated relatively quickly. Moreover, financial turmoil in developing countries tends to adversely affect prices in equity markets of other developing countries as investors move their money to more stable, developed markets.
Our operations in Etame, Block P and any future opportunistic acquisitions of oil and natural gas reserves may require protracted negotiations with host governments, local governments and communities, local competent authorities, national oil companies and third parties and may be subject to economic, social and political considerations outside of our control, such as the risks of expropriation, nationalization, renegotiation, forced interruption, suspension of operations, curtailment of sales, forced change or nullification of existing contracts or royalty rates, unenforceability of contractual rights, changing taxation policies or interpretations, adverse changes to laws (whether of general application or otherwise) or the interpretation or enforcement of laws, foreign exchange restrictions, inflation, changing political conditions, the death or incapacitation of political leaders, local currency devaluation, currency controls and foreign governmental regulations that favor or require the awarding of contracts to local contractors or require foreign contractors to employ citizens of, or purchase supplies from, a particular jurisdiction.
While the laws of each of Gabon and Equatorial Guinea respectively recognize private and public property and the right to own property is protected by law, the laws of each country reserve, at the respective government’s discretion, the right to expropriate property and terminate contracts (including the Etame PSC and the Block P PSC) for reasons of public interest, subject to reasonable compensation, determinable by the respective government in its discretion.
The respective applicable laws governing the exploration and production of hydrocarbons in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea (Law No. 002/2019 in Gabon and Law No. 8/2006 9 in Equatorial Guinea) each provide the respective government officials with significantly broad regulatory, inspective and auditing powers with respect to the performance of petroleum operations, which include the powers to negotiate, sign, amend and perform all contracts entered into between the respective governments and independent contractors. The executive branches of each respective government also retain significant discretionary powers, giving considerable control over the executive, judiciary and legislative branches of each government, and the ability to adopt measures with a direct impact on private investments and projects, including the right to appoint ministers responsible for petroleum operations. Further, in Equatorial Guinea, any new PSC or equivalent agreement for the exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons is subject to presidential ratification before it can become effective.
Any of the factors detailed above or similar factors could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations or financial condition. If disputes arise in connection with our operations in Gabon, Equatorial Guinea or any future jurisdiction in which we operate, we may be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of foreign courts or foreign arbitration tribunals or may not be successful in subjecting foreign persons, especially foreign ministries and national companies, to the legal jurisdiction of the United States.
While we are not aware of any activities that would lead to the seizure of any assets, we cannot guarantee that there will not be regulations imposed on any individual or company that is related to our operations or our activities in the relevant region. Such measures, which would be beyond our control, could have a material adverse effect on our business, reputation, results of operations, financial condition and the price of our common stock.
We could lose our interest in Block P if the terms for lifting the suspension are not met.
Under the terms of lifting of the suspension, a new joint owner was expected to assume GEPetrol’s working interest obligations and was expected to be presented to the EG MMH by March 28, 2019. The EG MMH approved our appointment as operator for Block P on November 12, 2019, and we are currently waiting on a production sharing contract amendment to begin activities in Block P. If the joint owners of Block P fail to meet the commitments under the production sharing contract amendment, VAALCO’s capitalized costs associated with Block P interest would be impaired.
Commodity derivatives transactions we enter into may fail to protect us from declines in commodity prices.
In order to reduce the impact of commodity price uncertainty and increase cash flow predictability relating to the marketing of our crude oil and natural gas, we have entered into derivatives arrangements with respect to a portion of our expected production. Our derivative contracts consist of a series of commodity swap contracts and are limited in duration. Our derivatives program may be inadequate to protect us from significant and prolonged declines in the price of crude oil.
Derivative arrangements also expose us to the risk of financial loss in some circumstances, including when:
production is less than the volume covered by the derivative instruments; or
the counter-party to the derivative instrument defaults on its contract obligations.
In addition, certain types of derivative arrangements may limit the benefit we could receive from increases in the prices for crude oil and natural gas and may expose us to cash margin requirements.
The distressed financial conditions of one or more hedge providers could have an adverse impact on us in the event these hedge providers are unable to pay us amounts owed to us under one or more financial hedge transactions by which we have hedged our exposure to commodity price volatility.
From time to time, we may enter into financial hedge transactions to hedge or mitigate our exposure to the risks of commodity price volatility with respect to the crude oil or natural gas we produce and sell. In such instances, the hedge provider will be obligated to make payments to us under such financial hedge transactions to the extent that the floating (market) price is below an agreed fixed (strike) price. Hedging agreements expose us to risk of financial loss if the counterparty to a hedging contract defaults on its contract obligations. Disruptions in the market could also occur that lead to sudden changes in the liquidity of the counterparties to our hedge transactions that limit their ability to perform under their hedging contracts with us. Even if we do accurately predict sudden changes, our ability to negate the risk may be limited depending upon market conditions. If the creditworthiness of our counterparties deteriorates and results in their nonperformance, we could incur a significant loss.
There are inherent limitations in all control systems, and misstatements due to error or fraud that could seriously harm our business may occur and not be detected.
In the past, our management has concluded that certain control deficiencies either individually or in the aggregate constituted a material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting. While the material weakness has been remediated and our management has concluded that our internal control over financial reporting was effective as of December 31, 2019, our management does not expect that our internal controls and disclosure controls will prevent or detect all possible errors or all instances of fraud. A control system, no matter how well conceived and operated, can provide only reasonable, not absolute, assurance that the objectives of the control system are met. In addition, the design of a control system must reflect the fact that there are resource constraints and the benefit of controls must be relative to their costs. Because of the inherent limitations in all control systems, an evaluation of controls can only provide reasonable assurance that all material control issues and instances of fraud, if any, in our company have been detected. These inherent limitations include the realities that judgments in decision-making can be faulty and that breakdowns can occur because of simple error or mistakes. Further, controls can be circumvented by the individual acts of some persons or by two or more persons acting in collusion. The design of any system of controls is based in part upon certain assumptions about the likelihood of future events, and there can be no assurance that any design will succeed in achieving its stated goals under all potential future conditions. Because of inherent limitations in any control system designed under a cost-effective approach, misstatements due to error or fraud may occur and not be detected. A failure of our controls and procedures to detect error or fraud could seriously harm our business and results of operations.
Our business could suffer if we lose the services of, or fail to attract, key personnel.
We are highly dependent upon the efforts of our senior management and other key employees. The loss of the services of our Chief
Executive Officer, President and Chief Financial Officer, as well as any loss of the services of one or more other members of our senior management, could delay or prevent the achievement of our objectives. We do not maintain any “key-man” insurance policies on any of our senior management, and do not intend to obtain such insurance. In addition, due to the specialized nature of our business, we are highly dependent upon our ability to attract and retain qualified personnel with extensive experience and expertise in evaluating and analyzing drilling prospects and producing crude oil and natural gas from proved properties and maximizing production from crude oil and natural gas properties. There is competition for qualified personnel in the areas of our activities, and we may be unsuccessful in attracting and retaining these personnel.
We face various risks associated with increased activism against crude oil and natural gas exploration and development activities.
Opposition toward crude oil and natural gas drilling and development activity has been growing globally. Companies in the crude oil and natural gas industry are often the target of activist efforts from both individuals and non-governmental organizations regarding safety, human rights, climate change, environmental matters, sustainability, and business practices. Anti-development activists are working to, among other things, delay or cancel certain operations such as offshore drilling and development.
Future activist efforts could result in the following:
delay or denial of drilling permits;
shortening of lease terms or reduction in lease size;
restrictions or delays on our ability to obtain additional seismic data;
restrictions on installation or operation of gathering or processing facilities;
restrictions on the use of certain operating practices;
legal challenges or lawsuits;
damaging publicity about us;
increased costs of doing business;
reduction in demand for our products; and
other adverse effects on our ability to develop our properties and/or undertake production operations.
Activism worldwide may increase if the current administration in the U.S. is perceived to be following, or actually follows, through on certain proposed initiatives to promote increased fossil fuel exploration and production in the U.S. Our need to incur costs associated with responding to these initiatives or complying with any resulting new legal or regulatory requirements resulting from these activities that are substantial and not adequately provided for, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Risks Related to Our Common Stock
The price of our common stock may fluctuate significantly.
Our common stock currently trades on the NYSE and the LSE, but an active trading market for our common stock may not be sustained. The market price of our common stock could fluctuate significantly as a result of:
dilutive issuances of our common stock;
announcements relating to our business or the business of our competitors;
changes in expectations as to our future financial performance or changes in financial estimates of public market analysis;
actual or anticipated quarterly variations in our operating results;
conditions generally affecting the crude oil and natural gas industry;
the success of our operating strategy; and
the operating and stock price performance of other comparable companies.
Many of these factors are beyond our control, and we cannot predict their potential effects on the price of our common stock. In addition, the stock markets in general can experience considerable price and volume fluctuations. Financial markets have experienced significant price and volume fluctuations in the last several years that have particularly affected the market prices of equity securities of companies and that have, in many cases, been unrelated to the operating performance, underlying asset values or prospects of such companies. Accordingly, the market price of the common stock may decline even if our operating results, underlying asset values or prospects have not changed. Additionally, these factors, as well as other related factors, may cause decreases in asset values that are deemed to be other than temporary, which may result in impairment losses. Also, certain institutional investors may base their investment decisions on consideration of our environmental, governance and social practices and performance against such institutions’ respective investment guidelines and criteria, and failure to meet such criteria may result in a limited or no investment in our common stock by those institutions, which could adversely affect the trading price of our common stock. There is no assurance that continuing fluctuations in the price and volume of publicly traded equity securities will not occur. If such increased levels of volatility and market turmoil continue, our operations could be adversely impacted, and the trading price of the common stock may be adversely affected.
Substantial future sales of common stock, or the perception that such sales might occur, or additional offerings of common stock could depress the market price of our common stock.
We cannot predict what effect, if any, future sales of common stock, or the availability of common stock for future sale, or the offer of additional common stock in the future, will have on the market price of common stock. Sales or an additional offering of substantial numbers of common stock in the public market, or the perception or any announcement that such sales or an additional offering could occur, could adversely affect the market price of common stock and may make it more difficult for shareholders to sell their common stock at a time and price which they deem appropriate and could also impede our ability to raise capital through the issuance of equity securities.
We do not currently intend to pay dividends on the common stock and our ability to pay dividends in the future may be limited; consequently, the only opportunity for investors to achieve a return on their investment is if the price of the common stock appreciates.
We have never declared or paid dividends on our common stock. We intend to retain future earnings, if any, to support the development of the business, and therefore do not anticipate paying cash dividends for the foreseeable future. Payment of future dividends, if any, would be at the discretion of the board of directors after taking into account various factors, including current financial condition, the tax impact of repatriating cash, operating results and current and anticipated cash needs. Consequently, investors must rely on sale of their common stock after price appreciation, which may never occur, as the only way to realize a return on their investment.
We may not continue to repurchase shares under our stock repurchase plan and our repurchases may not materially enhance the long-term value of our business or stock.
On June 20, 2019, we announced that our board of directors authorized a stock repurchase plan pursuant to which we may repurchase up to $10.0 million of our common stock. Pursuant to the plan, share repurchases may be made through a variety of methods, including open market purchases, privately negotiated transactions, block purchases and other methods. The timing and number of shares repurchased will depend on a variety of factors, including price, general business and market conditions, our capital allocation policy and alternative investment opportunities. Our repurchase program does not obligate us to repurchase any specific number of shares and may be suspended or discontinued at any time. Any repurchases of our stock pursuant to the stock repurchase plan may
materially reduce the amount of cash we have available and may not materially enhance the long-term value of our business or our stock.
Dual-listing on the NYSE and the LSE may lead to an inefficient market in the common stock.
Dual-listing of our common stock will result in differences in liquidity, settlement and clearing systems, trading currencies, prices and transaction costs between the exchanges where the common stock will be quoted. These and other factors may hinder the transferability of the common stock between the two exchanges.
The common stock is quoted on the NYSE and on the LSE. Consequently, the trading in and liquidity of the common stock is split between these two exchanges. The price of the common stock may fluctuate and may at any time be different on the NYSE and the LSE. Investors could seek to sell or buy common stock to take advantage of any price differences between the two markets through a practice referred to as arbitrage. Any arbitrage activity could create unexpected volatility in both common stock prices on either exchange and in the volumes of common stock available for trading on either market. This could adversely affect the trading of the common stock on these exchanges and increase their price volatility and/or adversely affect the price and liquidity of the common stock on these exchanges. In addition, holders of common stock in either jurisdiction will not be immediately able to transfer such shares for trading on the other market without effecting necessary procedures with our transfer agents/registrars. This could result in time delays and additional cost for shareholders.
The common stock is quoted and traded in USD on the NYSE. The common stock is quoted and traded in GBX on the LSE. The market price of the common stock on those exchanges may also differ due to exchange rate fluctuations.
Our certificate of incorporation and bylaws do not contain any rights of preemption in favor of existing shareholders, which means that shareholders may be diluted if additional common stock is issued.
Our shareholders do not have preemptive rights and we, without shareholder consent, may issue additional common stock, preferred shares, warrants, rights, units and debt securities for general corporate purposes, including, but not limited to, working capital, capital expenditures, investments, acquisitions and repayment or refinancing of borrowings. We actively seek to expand our business through complementary or strategic acquisitions and may issue additional common stock in connection with those acquisitions. We also issue common stock to our executive officers, employees and independent directors as part of their compensation. This may have the effect of diluting the interests of existing shareholders. Additionally, to the extent that preemptive rights are granted, shareholders in certain jurisdictions may experience difficulties or may be unable to exercise their preemptive rights.
Any issuance of preferred shares will rank in priority to the common stock.
While VAALCO does not currently have any Preferred Shares outstanding, under the Certificate of Incorporation, VAALCO is authorized to issue up to 500,000 Preferred Shares. Any issuance of Preferred Shares would rank in priority to the Common Shares with respect to payment of dividends, liquidation, and other matters.
Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments
Item 2. Properties
The location and general character of our principal crude oil and natural gas assets, production facilities, and other important physical properties have been described by segment under Item 1. “Business.” Information about crude oil and natural gas reserves, including the basis for their estimation, is discussed in Item 1. “Business.”
Item 3. Legal Proceedings
We are subject to litigation claims and governmental and regulatory proceedings arising in the ordinary course of business. It is management’s opinion that all claims and litigation we are currently involved in are not likely to have a material adverse effect on our consolidated financial position, cash flows or results of operations.
Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures
Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
Our common stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange and London Stock Exchange under the symbol EGY.
As of February 28, 2020, based upon information received from our transfer agent and brokers and nominees, there were approximately 42 holders of record of VAALCO common stock. This number does not include beneficial or other owners for whom common stock may be held in “street” names.
We have not paid cash dividends and do not anticipate paying cash dividends on the common stock in the foreseeable future.
Securities Authorized for Issuance under Equity Compensation Plans
See Item 12. Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters for discussion of shares of common stock that may be issued under our compensation plans.
The following graph compares the annual percentage change in our cumulative total stockholder return on common shares with the cumulative total return of the S&P 500 Index and the SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Exploration and Production Index. The graph assumes $100 was invested on December 31, 2014 in our common stock and in each index, and that all dividends are reinvested. Stockholder returns over the indicated period may not be indicative of future stockholder returns.
SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Exploration and Production
S&P 500 Composite
VAALCO Energy, Inc.
Unregistered Sales of Equity Securities and Use of Proceeds
Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
On June 20, 2019, our Board of Directors authorized and approved a share repurchase program for up to $10.0 million of the currently outstanding shares of our common stock over a period of 12 months. Under the stock repurchase program, we may repurchase shares through open market purchases, privately-negotiated transactions, block purchases or otherwise in accordance with applicable federal securities laws, including Rule 10b-18 of the Exchange Act.
The following table represents details of the various repurchases during the three months ended December 31, 2019:
Total Number of Shares Purchased
Average Price Paid per Share
Total Number of Shares Purchased as Part of Publicly Announced Programs
Maximum Amount that May Yet Be Used to Purchase Shares Under the Program
October 1, 2019 - October 31, 2019
November 1, 2019 - November 30, 2019
December 1, 2019 - December 31, 2019
* Includes shares to satisfy tax withholding obligations related to restricted stock vesting. See Note 16 to the Financial Statements for further discussion.
Item 6. Selected Financial Data
The following table sets forth, as of the dates and for the periods indicated, selected financial information. The financial information for each of the five years ended December 31, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015 has been derived from the Financial Statements filed in the Annual Report on Form 10-K for each year. The information should be read in conjunction with “Item 7—Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and the Financial Statements and accompanying notes. The following information is not necessarily indicative of future results.