September 16, 2009

SWOT Analysis - Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ)

Canadian Natural Resources (CNR) is a significant producer of natural gas in Canada, representing approximately 10% of western Canadian output. Its undeveloped land base represents the second largest portfolio in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin (WCSB) and it also has an exposure to virtually every play type found in the basin. Strong market position allows the company to take advantage of economies of the scale and reduce risk. However, increased cost pressures and environmental regulations may adversely impact the company’s future net earnings, cash flow, and capital projects.


Leadership position in Canada - The company’s production is concentrated in five North American core regions: Northeast British Columbia, Northwest Alberta, the Foothills, the Northern Plains, and the Southern Plains. In addition, the company holds extensive leases in the Athabasca region that are estimated to contain approximately 16 billion barrels of original bitumen in place. It also dominates the infrastructure in its core areas allowing it to control its cost. Moreover, natural gas remains its largest single product offering, representing 45% of its production mix in 2008. Strong market position allows the company to take advantage of economies of the scale and reduce risk.

Strong oil reserves - The company has strong oil reserves. CNR’s crude oil and NGLs proved reserves, before royalties increased from 1,123 million barrels (mmbbl) in FY2004 to 1,543 mmbbl in FY 2007, at a CAGR of 11%. Further, the crude oil and NGLs proved reserves, after royalties, also increased from 1,066 mmbbl in FY2004 to 1,358 mmbbl in FY2007. The company’s strong oil reserves give it a significant competitive advantage, especially when a large proportion of global oil fields are reaching maturity.

Strategic land base - CNR has the second largest undeveloped land inventory in the WCSB, with undeveloped net acreage in excess of 12 million acres, excluding leases at the Horizon Project. The strength of the company’s land base is a result of continued land purchases, and strategic acquisitions including the incorporation of the ACC properties that were acquired in late 2006. The vast majority of the company’s land base is positioned to utilize existing owned and operated infrastructure and also strategically positions CNR. Further, it also maximizes the benefit of new play types developed by the company and industry. This strong concentrated land base affords significant opportunities to control operating costs, along with minimizing finding and on-stream costs.


Poor performance of North Sea geographic segment - The revenues and the crude oil production from CNR’s North Sea geographic segment have been witnessing a decline over the years. The revenues from North Sea declined from C$1,656 million (approximately $1,490.4 million) in FY2005 to C$1,594 million (approximately $1,434.6 million) in FY2007, at a CAGR of 1.9%. Further, crude oil production before royalties from North Sea declined from 68,593 barrels per day (bbl/d) in FY2005 to 55,933 bbl/d in FY2007, at a CAGR of 9.7%. The decline in production was due to lower than anticipated production from the Lyell Field development and water injection problems experienced during the year at the Ninian Field.

Declining natural gas reserves - The company has witnessed a significant decline in its natural gas reserves in 2008 compared with FY2006. Natural gas remains its largest single product offering, representing 45% of its production mix in 2008. The natural gas reserves, before royalties, declined from 4,613 billion cubic feet (Bcf) in FY2006 to 4,435 Bcf in 2008, representing a decline of 3.9%. Further, its natural gas reserves, after royalties, declined from 3,798 Bcf in FY2006 to 3,666 Bcf in 2008, representing a decline of 3.5%.


Rising demand for oil and natural gas - The strong economic growth in the developing countries will drive global oil and natural gas demand. The overall global energy demand is expected to grow about 1.6% annually to 2030. With the growing transportation sector, the demand for liquid fuels is expected to rise at a rate of 1.4% per year. Driven by increasing demand for electricity, natural gas demand is expected to increase by 1.7% annually to 2030. The projected increase in demand for liquid fuels and natural gas in the coming years would help the company boost its sales and strengthen its financial base.

Horizon Oil Sands Project - The Horizon Oil Sands Project is located 70 kilometres north of Fort McMurray, where CNR owns and operates leases covering 115,000 acres through lease arrangements with the Province of Alberta.The Horizon Project includes a surface oil sands mining and bitumen extraction plant coupled with on-site bitumen upgrading and associated infrastructure to produce synthetic crude oil. Drilling on these leases indicates an estimated 16 billion barrels of bitumen in place, with approximately 6-8 billion recoverable barrels under existing mining technologies. The Horizon Project asset is substantial and is anticipated to provide significant free cash flow in the future to CNR.


Environmental regulations - CNR’s businesses are subject to numerous laws and regulations relating to the protection of the environment.The company’s associated risk management strategies focus on working with legislators and regulators to ensure that any new or revised regulations reflect a balanced approach to sustainable development. Further, specific measures in response to existing or new legislation include focus on the company’s energy efficiency, air emissions management, released water quality, reduced fresh water use, and minimization of the impact on the landscape.

Increasing cost pressures - Strong commodity prices in recent years have resulted in increased demand and costs for oilfield services. This has lead to inflationary production and capital cost pressures throughout the North American oil and gas industry, particularly related to natural gas drilling activity and oil sands developments. The strong commodity price environment has also impacted costs in international basins. Specifically, the high demand for offshore drilling rigs continues and securing rigs on commercially acceptable terms is an ongoing challenge.

Adverse weather conditions - Adverse weather conditions could pose a substantial threat to the company both in terms of curtailed activity and its potential effect on natural gas prices. Warmer than normal weather can impact the demand for natural gas, resulting in lower realized price for the company.