Houston-based W&T Offshore has entered into joint exploration and development agreements with a group of investors to drill up to 14 specified projects in the Gulf of Mexico over the next three plus years.
Announcing the deal on Monday, W&T said that it allows it to develop its drilling inventory at a faster pace and with a greatly reduced capital outlay.
Tracy Krohn, W&T Offshore’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, stated, “We are extremely pleased to form this multi-year joint exploration and development program that will allow us to continue unlocking the value of our significant drilling opportunities while drastically reducing our capital expenditures. The drilling program will allow us to accelerate the development of our high return inventory to bring significant cash back to the corporate entity, while maintaining the flexibility to manage our balance sheet and pursue additional accretive acquisition opportunities in the Gulf of Mexico as other operators exit.
“Plus, by contributing inventory and our operating expertise, W&T will receive both a front-end and back-end promote that should compensate us for the leases that we are contributing and also substantially enhance our return on investment.”
W&T and the initial investor group have formed a joint venture investment entity that will jointly participate in the drilling and development of a specified group of wells on W&T-held leases and producing acreage in the Gulf of Mexico.
The investor group is led by an entity owned and controlled by funds managed by HarbourVest Partners, a Boston based private equity fund sponsor with over $40 billion of assets under management. The initial investor group will also include a minority investment by an entity owned and controlled by Krohn and his family. The Krohn entity will invest on the same terms and conditions as were negotiated with HarbourVest Partners and its investment will be limited to 4% of total invested capital of the joint venture.
Commitment of $230m
The initial investor group and W&T have agreed to an aggregate initial capital commitment of $230.5 million (subject to increase up to a maximum commitment of $275.9 million upon additional investors joining the drilling program), which is sufficient to fund the drilling, completion and tie-in of a number of the project wells. W&T expects that more institutional investors will join the drilling program shortly which would increase the total cash commitment to drill the full complement of 14 projects.
W&T is contributing 88.94% of its working interest in the 14 projects to the joint venture entity and retaining an 11.06% working interest. The group of wells is from W&T’s existing drilling inventory and is expected to be drilled over the next three years. W&T has also agreed to make a cash commitment to the joint venture entity for approximately 8.94% of the total cash commitments to the entity. The total initial W&T cash commitment to the drilling program, including its commitment with respect to its retained working interest, is $46.1 million (which is subject to an increase to a maximum commitment of $83.9 million upon additional investors joining the drilling program).
After taking into account the working interest retained by W&T and the interests in the joint venture entity received by W&T, the investor group will initially receive 70% of the net revenues from the group of wells for 80% of the total well costs, while W&T will initially receive 30% of net revenues for 20% of the total well costs.
Total well costs include drilling, completion and tie-in of each of the wells in the program, as well as plug and abandonment obligations. W&T is the operator of a number of the wells in the program. Once the investor group participating in a well in the drilling program achieves certain return thresholds with respect to that well, W&T will receive 38.4% of the net revenues attributable to that well.