CanElson Drilling Inc.
TSX : CDI

CanElson Drilling Inc.

January 19, 2015 07:30 ET

CanElson Reduces Its 2015 Capital Program by 80% and Its Quarterly Dividend by 50% and Provides an Operations Update

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwired - Jan. 19, 2015) - CanElson Drilling Inc. (TSX:CDI) announced today that it has revised its 2015 capital program, including the deferral of construction of three contracted drilling rigs, has reduced its quarterly dividend to $0.03 per share, down from $0.06 per share previously, and provides an operations update.

"Our modern fleet of drilling rigs and our continued financial discipline will allow CanElson to weather the impact of sustained low commodity prices. Our focus remains on providing the best possible service to our customers by being measurably more efficient in the drilling process," stated Randy Hawkings, President and CEO of CanElson. "We believe our strong financial position and focus on efficiency will allow us to continue our industry outperformance."

OUTLOOK

Since inception in 2008, CanElson has remained well positioned to withstand commodity price cycles and its impact on industry activity levels by building a fleet of modern drilling rigs while maintaining modest levels of debt. This strategy is especially relevant today given current commodity price volatility, and we view current industry conditions as an opportunity to continue to differentiate ourselves from our peers.

Low crude oil and natural gas prices have materially impacted our outlook across all geographic operating areas. While current activity levels remain relatively strong, CanElson expects both drilling industry activity and pricing levels to decline in 2015 relative to 2014 at current commodity price levels. As such, CanElson expects a reduction to its current active rig count of 36 drilling rigs (72% of the drilling rig fleet). While we expect the impact of current commodity prices to affect all operating areas, we expect that Saskatchewan and North Dakota will see the largest drilling activity reductions, mainly due to lower realized crude oil pricing as a result of higher transportation costs.

We remain focused on performance and maintaining strong relationships with our customers. To this end, CanElson has delayed the completion of construction of Rig #47, Rig #48 and Rig #104 indefinitely. In November 2014, CanElson announced that it had signed the aforementioned three drilling rigs to long-term contracts. However, CanElson is in the process of negotiating revisions to its agreements with a view to mutually beneficial outcomes. As at December 31, 2014, CanElson had spent $13.6 million on long-lead components for these three rigs.

The Company remains in a strong financial position, with total debt net of cash of $48.3 million at December 31, 2014. CanElson has also taken steps toward maintaining a strong financial position going forward, including the reduction of its capital program to $12.9 million from $63.9 million, which now only covers critical maintenance items and minimal upgrade capital.

AMENDED DIVIDEND POLICY

Due to the uncertainty of future commodity prices and the corresponding uncertainty of future drilling rig activity, CanElson has reduced its quarterly dividend to $0.03 per share, down from $0.06 per share previously. The Company has taken this step to ensure it will have a balance sheet positioned to weather the cyclical downturn such that the Company is even stronger when there is eventual commodity and rig activity recovery.

2015 CAPITAL PROGRAM

2015 capital has been reduced by $51.0 million to reflect the Company's revised outlook, and includes a $30.2 million reduction in expansion capital as a result of the deferral of Rig #47, Rig # 48 and Rig #104. Additional components on selected drilling rigs, various other selected maintenance items, rig equipment upgrades, and spare equipment have also been either cancelled or deferred.

Drilling Services
Capital Expenditures Spare
equipment
facility &
overhead
Upgrades &
maintenance
Expansion CanGas Total
Total expected 2015 capital expenditures $ 2.3 $ 5.0 $ 4.1 $ 1.5 $ 12.9
Previously anticipated 2015 capital expenditures $ 8.1 $ 19.8 $ 34.3 $ 1.7 $ 63.9
Variance from previously anticipated 2014 capital expenditures $ (5.8 ) $ (14.8 ) $ (30.2 ) $ (0.2 ) $ (51.0 )

FOURTH QUARTER 2014 OPERATIONS UPDATE

CanElson is also providing an update for its operations in Canada and the United States during the fourth quarter of 2014. In Canada, the number of operating days decreased compared to the fourth quarter of 2013, as reduced activity levels in Saskatchewan offset a marginal increase in fleet size. 2014 full-year Canadian utilization of 59% remained significantly above industry utilization of 46% (source: CAODC). In the United States the number of operating days increased due to a higher average rig fleet size, with utilization remaining flat year-over-year.

Operational results for Canada and the United States for the three and twelve months ended December 31 are as follows:

Canada
For the three months
ended December 31,
For the twelve months
ended December 31,
2014 2013 % Change 2014 2013 % Change
Operating days (spud to rig release) 1,430 1,648 (13 )% 6,105 4,706 30 %
Utilization (%) 56 % 66 % (15 )% 59 % 53 % 11 %
(i) Utilization excludes rig moving days and is based on spud to rig release days only.
United States
For the three months
ended December 31,
For the twelve months
ended December 31,
2014 2013 % Change 2014 2013 % Change
Operating days (spud to rig release) 1,574 1,350 17 % 5,648 4,918 15 %
Utilization (%) 86 % 86 % - % 83 % 83 % - %
(i) Utilization excludes rig moving days and is based on spud to rig release days only.

FOURTH QUARTER RESULTS

CanElson will report its fourth quarter and full year of 2014 results on March 2nd, 2015, at approximately 5:30 a.m. Mountain Standard Time (7:30 a.m. Eastern Time). Full financial statements will be available on the Company's website (www.canelsondrilling.com) shortly thereafter.

ABOUT CANELSON

The primary business of CanElson (TSX:CDI) is operating land-based contract drilling rigs in Canada and the US for oil and natural gas exploration and development companies. The Corporation also has a 50% ownership interest in a joint venture, Diavaz CanElson de Mexico, S.A. de C.V., whose primary business is operating land-based contract drilling and service rigs in Mexico. CanElson also provides compressed natural gas and raw gas transportation services through its wholly owned subsidiary, CanGas Solutions Inc.

FORWARD-LOOKING INFORMATION

This press release contains forward-looking information pertaining to: CanElson being able to weather the impact of sustained low commodity prices, the view that current industry conditions are an opportunity to continue to differentiate ourselves from our peers, CanElson's expectation that both drilling industry activity and pricing levels will decline in 2015 relative to 2014, that Saskatchewan and North Dakota will see the largest drilling activity reductions, and the revised 2015 capital program. This forward-looking information involves material assumptions and known and unknown risks and uncertainties, including the risks set out under "Risks and Uncertainties", certain of which are beyond CanElson's control. CanElson's Annual Information Form and other documents filed with securities regulatory authorities (accessible through the SEDAR website www.sedar.com) describe the other risks, the material assumptions and other factors that could influence actual results and which are incorporated herein by reference. Actual results, performance or achievements could differ materially from those expressed in, or implied by, this forward-looking information and, accordingly, no assurances can be given that any of the events anticipated by the forward-looking information will transpire or occur, or if any of them do so, what benefits CanElson will derive therefrom. The forward-looking information is made as at the date of this press release and CanElson does not undertake any obligation to update publicly or to revise any of the included forward-looking information, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as may be required by applicable securities laws.

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