Berry Petroleum adds Wolfberry acreage for $180M

Company plans 2011 spending budget of $375M to $425M with 90% directed towards oil assets

Berry Petroleum Co. (NYSE:BRY) is buying 9,300 net acres in the Wolfberry trend in West Texas from a group of sellers for a combined purchase price of $180 million in cash.

Berry's proved plus probable reserve estimates associated with the forty-acre development of the properties are approximately 35 million barrels of oil equivalent (MMboe) with crude oil comprising 76% of these volumes. Upon completion of the acquisitions, the properties are expected to add approximately 2,200 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boe/d) to Berry's production during 2011.

Since entering the Permian basin in March of 2010, Berry has accumulated approximately 19,350 net acres in the Wolfberry trend. The $313 million of acquisitions in 2010 is expected to provide a five-year drilling inventory in the Wolfberry of 400 locations on forty-acre spacing with an additional 400 potential locations on twenty-acre spacing.

Robert Heinemann, president and CEO, stated, "We believe these acquisitions enhance our overall Permian operations with a contiguous 6,800 net acre block and strong per well recoveries of 180 Mboe. The first three years of expected production on these assets has a hedging floor of approximately $87 WTI which should allow these assets to generate operating margins of $62 per barrel.

Heinemann said the Wolfberry assets acquired earlier in the year are performing “in line with expectations” with production of 1,700 boe/d. He expects production from the Permian assets to grow to 9,000 boe/d during the next four years.

David Wolf, executive vice president and CFO, stated "We expect to fund this acquisition under our credit facility and on a pro forma basis we will have liquidity of over $500 million. With this acquisition, our leverage should be in the range of 2.25 to 2.5 times EBITDA in 2011."

The deal is expected to close in December 2010.

2010 Capital update
The company expects 2010 capital spending will range from $290 million to $310 million. Additional capital requirements are attributable to the expedited development of the company's diatomite asset, an incremental 14 wells in the Uinta basin and increased costs in the company's East Texas operations.

2011 Capital outlook
Assuming completion of the acquisitions in 2010, the company plans to run four drilling rigs in the Permian basin during 2011 and spend approximately $130 million to drill approximately 75 wells. The company's capital budget for 2011, based on $75 WTI, is expected to be between $375 million and $425 million and should be fully funded from cash flow. Approximately 90% of the 2011 capital is expected to be directed towards the company's oil assets targeting oil production growth of at least 20%. Of the expected 2011 production growth of approximately 15%, the acquired assets should contribute 6% with organic growth comprising 9%. Production volumes are expected to be 70% oil, which should drive corporate operating margins to $33 per boe. 

Shares of the company were up +0.3300 (+0.9607%) at US$34.68 late Monday morning. 

Source:  Berry Petroleum Co.

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