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Perpetual Energy Inc. reports first quarter 2020 financial and operating results

CALGARY – Perpetual Energy Inc. (“Perpetual”, or the “Company”) is pleased to release its first quarter 2020 financial and operating results. A complete copy of Perpetual’s unaudited condensed interim consolidated financial statements and related Management’s Discussion and Analysis (“MD&A”) for the three months ended March 31, 2020 can be obtained through the Company’s website at and SEDAR at


On April 1, 2020, the Company closed the sale of a  50% working interest in its East Edson property in West Central Alberta to a third-party purchaser for consideration including a cash payment of $35 million and the carried interest funding of the drill, complete and tie-in costs for an eight-well drilling program (the “East Edson Transaction”). A minimum of two horizontal wells targeting development of the Wilrich formation are required to be drilled, completed and tied-in following spring break-up 2020. The purchaser is required to complete the eight-well horizontal drilling program by April 1, 2022.

The cash proceeds from the East Edson Transaction will be used to repay bank debt and fund profitable investment in the Clearwater play in Eastern Alberta as oil prices recover and stabilize. The eight-well development capital carry at East Edson is anticipated to restore gross production levels to more fully utilize the existing processing capacity, improve operating netbacks given the largely fixed operating cost base, and result in improved capital spending efficiency.


Capital Spending, Production and Operations

  • Late in the first quarter of 2020, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic caused a wide-spread economic slowdown and corresponding oil and natural gas demand destruction. The impact of COVID-19, coupled with the Saudi Arabia and Russia induced oil price shock, dramatically impacted Perpetual’s operations. Oil prices dropped abruptly to levels below Perpetual’s variable production costs, prompting the shut-in of all heavy oil production in late March to minimize operating losses and preserve reserves.
  • To ensure employees remain safe and healthy, corporate employees began working from home in mid-March and field protocols have been put in place to enforce physical distancing and reduce the risk of transmission.  Emergency support measures have been announced by both federal and provincial governments which are expected to provide cost reductions of $0.8 million over 2020, as well as the temporary payment deferral of various taxes and other costs.
  • Exploration and development spending for the first quarter of 2020 was $5.2 million, and included costs to drill, complete and tie-in four (4.0 net) heavy oil wells in the Ukalta area of Eastern Alberta, targeting the Clearwater formation. The program successfully demonstrated enhanced capital efficiency and performance utilizing a modified drilling mud system and de-risked additional development drilling inventory. These four wells commenced production in late January through early March and production had ramped up to a combined rate of over 540 bbl/d prior to curtailment and shut-in later in March in response to the significant decline in heavy oil prices. Additional Clearwater exploration and development opportunities were also secured during the quarter.
  • Perpetual spent $0.2 million (Q1 2019 – $0.3 million) on abandonment and reclamation projects. Nine reclamation certificates were received from the AER during the first quarter of 2020 (Q1 2019 – four reclamation certificates) which will result in the cessation of associated property tax and surface lease expenses.
  • Production averaged 7,479 boe/d in the first quarter of 2020, down 27% from the comparable period in 2019 and down 6% from the fourth quarter of 2019. The decrease was driven by natural declines at East Edson due to the deferral of gas-focused capital spending in response to continued low natural gas prices. Additionally, the temporary shut-in of heavy oil production in late March reduced first quarter production by approximately 100 boe/d. Heavy oil production in Eastern Alberta was 17% higher than the first quarter of 2019, despite the heavy oil production shut-in during March. The increase in oil-weighted production was due to the positive impact of the heavy oil focused 2019 and first quarter 2020 Clearwater drilling program at Ukalta, combined with lower base declines at Mannville due to waterflood operations.
  • Production and operating costs were down by $1.1 million (22%) compared to the first quarter of 2019. On a unit-of-production basis, production and operating expenses were up 6% to $6.12/boe for the first quarter of 2020, compared to $5.77/boe for the comparable period of 2019. West Central production and operating expenses of $1.7 million were down 16% relative to the first quarter of 2019, while production was down 32% over the same period, illustrating the largely fixed cost nature of the East Edson property.

Financial Highlights

  • Realized revenue was $13.88/boe in the first quarter of 2020, 43% lower than the comparative period of 2019 ($24.24/boe). The decrease was due to the 67% reduction in Perpetual’s realized natural gas price to $1.16/Mcf, combined with a realized oil price of $32.60/bbl which was 21% lower than the comparative period of 2019. Lower realized natural gas prices were the result of the 22% and 38% decrease in the AECO and NYMEX Daily Index prices, respectively. The decline in NYMEX prices outpaced AECO price decreases and reduced the basis differential price, combining to generate AECO-NYMEX basis hedging losses that further reduced realized prices.
  • Perpetual’s operating netback of $1.6 million ($2.39/boe) in the first quarter of 2020 decreased 87% from $12.3 million ($13.36/boe) in the comparative 2019 period as a result of lower reference prices for both natural gas and crude oil, physical and financial hedging losses, and the 27% decrease in production caused by natural declines at the East Edson property in West Central.
  • Non-cash impairment charges of $60.5 million were recognized in the first quarter of 2020, triggered by the impact of materially lower third-party engineering consultant forward commodity price forecasts on Perpetual’s heavy oil and liquids-rich natural gas assets, along with certain undeveloped lands classified as exploration and evaluation (“E&E”) assets.
  • Net loss for the first quarter of 2020 was $59.7 million ($0.98/share) due primarily to impairment charges of $60.5 million, offset partially by unrealized gains on derivatives of $12.1 million (Q1 2019 – $7.6 million unrealized loss) attributable to the reduction in forward WTI and WCS oil prices.
  • Cash flow used in operating activities in the first quarter of 2020 was $3.1 million ($0.05/share), down $12.4 million from the prior year period (Q1 2019 – cash flow from operating activities of $9.3 million or $0.15/share) due to the impact of the 27% decrease in production combined with lower realized natural gas and crude oil prices of 67% and 21%, respectively.
  • Adjusted funds flow in the first quarter of 2020 was negative $3.6 million ($0.06/share), down $10.0 million (157%) from the prior year period of $6.4 million ($0.11/share) due primarily to lower realized commodity prices as well as the 27% decrease in production.
  • The Company’s remaining 1.0 million TOU shares were sold in January 2020 for proceeds of $14.3 million which were used to repay the outstanding TOU share margin loan of $0.1 million and reduce the bank Credit Facility.
  • At March 31, 2020, Perpetual had total net debt of $128.7 million, up $10.6 million (9%) from December 31, 2019. The increase in net debt was attributable to cash flows used in operating activities of $3.1 million, combined with first quarter capital expenditures of $5.2 million.
  • Incorporating the impact of the East Edson Transaction, effective April 1, 2020, Perpetual’s syndicate of Credit Facility lenders reduced the Borrowing Limit from $45 million to $20 million, with the next Borrowing Limit redetermination scheduled on or prior to July 31, 2020. The Credit Facility will continue to revolve until July 31, 2020 and may be extended for a further period of up to 364 days subject to approval by the Company’s lenders. If not extended, the Credit Facility will cease to revolve, and all outstanding advances will be repayable on November 30, 2020.
  • After giving effect to the $35 million of cash proceeds received from the East Edson Transaction and the reduced Borrowing Limit effective April 1, 2020, Perpetual had available liquidity of $13.6 million.



On January 13, 2020, the Court of Queen’s Bench issued its written decision related to the Statement of Claim filed on August 3, 2018 against Perpetual and its President and Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”) with respect to the Company’s disposition of shallow gas assets in Eastern Alberta to an unrelated third party on October 1, 2016 (the “Sequoia Litigation”). The decision dismissed and struck all claims against the Company’s CEO and all but one of the claims filed by PwC in its capacity as trustee in bankruptcy (the “Trustee”) against Perpetual. The Court did not find that the test for summary dismissal relating to whether the transaction was an arm’s length transfer for purposes of section 96(1) of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (the “BIA”) was met, on the balance of probabilities. Accordingly, the BIA claim was not dismissed or struck and only that part of the claim can continue against Perpetual. The Trustee filed a notice of appeal with the Court of Appeal of Alberta, challenging the decision, and Perpetual filed a similar notice of appeal contesting the BIA claim portion of the decision. The appeal proceedings are scheduled to be heard in December 2020.

On January 28, 2020, the Court of Appeal issued its decision with respect to Perpetual’s application for security for costs, requiring the Trustee to post security with the Court of Appeal in the amount of $0.2 million. Applications have been filed by the Trustee to appeal the security for costs decision and alter the reasons for the decision. The Court of Appeal is scheduled to hear these applications in June 2020.

On February 25, 2020, Perpetual filed a new application to strike and summarily dismiss the BIA claim on the basis that there was no transfer at undervalue, and Sequoia was not insolvent at the time of the transaction nor caused to be insolvent by the transaction. The Court is scheduled to hear this application in June 2020.

Management expects that the Company is more likely than not to be successful in defending against the Sequoia Litigation such that no damages will be awarded against it, and therefore, no amounts have been accrued as a liability in Perpetual’s financial statements.


Capital spending in the first quarter of 2020 of $5.2 million was primarily directed to the four well (4.0 net) heavy oil drilling program targeting the Clearwater formation in the Ukalta area of Eastern Alberta. In response to the recent significant decline in global oil prices, all further capital expenditures in 2020 in Eastern Alberta will be deferred and substantially all of the Company’s heavy oil production has been temporarily suspended, pending a recovery to oil prices. Capital activity in 2020 at the 50% owned East Edson property will consist of the carried interest drilling program forming part of the East Edson Transaction consideration.

Assuming a mid-year recovery of oil prices sufficient to support the restart of oil production later in the year, Perpetual anticipates average 2020 sales volumes of 4,500 to 5,500 boe/d (25% liquids). Actions have been implemented to minimize operating and corporate costs. To ensure employees remain safe and healthy, corporate employees began working from home in mid-March, and strict social distancing and hygiene protocols were implemented across field operations. All employees have been reduced to 80% of base compensation with a corresponding reduction in hours worked, to reduce costs by an estimated annualized amount of $0.7 million per year.

Abandonment and reclamation expenditures of $1.4 million are forecast for 2020, primarily at Mannville, as required to comply with the minimum expenditure level directed by the Alberta Energy Regulator’s area-based closure program, addressing decommissioning obligations and thereby decreasing fixed operating costs associated with non-producing wells. In late April, the Government of Alberta announced its Site Rehabilitation Program aimed at incenting abandonment and reclamation activity. Perpetual will consider directing additional spending to retire inactive wells and sites depending on incentives available and as resources permit.

Financial and Operating Highlights

Three months ended March 31,

($Cdn thousands except volume and per share amounts)





Oil and natural gas revenue




Net loss




Per share – basic and diluted(2)




Cash flow from (used in) operating activities




Adjusted funds flow(1)




Per share – basic and diluted(1)(2)




Total assets




Revolving bank debt




Term loan, principal amount



TOU share margin demand loan, principal amount



Senior Notes, principal amount




TOU share investment



Adjusted working capital deficiency(1)




Net debt(1)




Capital expenditures




Net payments (proceeds) on acquisitions and dispositions

Net capital expenditures




Common shares (thousands)(3)

End of period




Weighted average – basic and diluted





Daily average production

Natural gas (MMcf/d)




Oil (bbl/d)




NGL (bbl/d)




Total (boe/d)




Average prices

Realized natural gas price ($/Mcf)




Realized oil price ($/bbl)




Realized NGL price ($/bbl)




Wells drilled – gross (net)

Natural gas

– (–)

– (–)


4 (4.0)

– (–)


4 (4.0)

– (–)


These are non-GAAP measures. Please refer to “Non-GAAP Measures” below.  


Based on weighted average basic common shares outstanding for the period.


All common shares are net of shares held in trust (Q1 2020 – 0.6 million; Q1 2019 – 0.9 million). See “Note 14 to the condensed interim consolidated financial statements”.


About Perpetual

Perpetual is an oil and natural gas exploration, production and marketing company headquartered in Calgary, Alberta. Perpetual operates a diversified asset portfolio, including liquids-rich natural gas assets in the deep basin of west central Alberta, heavy oil and shallow natural gas in eastern Alberta, with longer term opportunities through undeveloped oil sands leases in northern Alberta. Additional information on Perpetual can be accessed at or from the Corporation’s website at

The Toronto Stock Exchange has neither approved nor disapproved the information contained herein.

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