Iona Energy Inc.
TSX VENTURE : INA

April 30, 2012 19:38 ET

Iona Energy Inc. Announces 2011 Financial Results and Year End Reserves

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - April 30, 2012) -

NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION TO UNITED STATES NEWS WIRE SERVICES OR DISSEMINATION IN UNITED STATES

Iona Energy Inc. ("Iona" or the "Company") (TSX VENTURE:INA) announces its financial results for the twelve months ended December 31, 2011 and the Company's independently evaluated reserves as of the same date.

Neill A. Carson, Iona's CEO commented, "It has been an exciting and active year for Iona which has been marked by the successful private placement, our "go public" launch on the TSX-V, the completion of the Orlando and Trent and Tyne deals, the major advancement on the Orlando development and the significant strengthening of our management team. This level of activity has continued into 2012 with the completion of the Kells acquisition and fast track development of the field. We are looking forward to 2012 with great anticipation as we prepare for an active year of project execution."

Highlights for the year ended December 31, 2011

Financial

  • Net loss of CAD$5.1 million (or CAD$0.043 per share) for the year (2010 - CAD$0.8 million (or CAD$0.052 per share).
  • Exploration and evaluation assets of CAD$28.2 million (2010 - CAD$1.5 million).
  • Current assets of CAD$43.5 million (2010 - CAD$1.5 million), including CAD$1.3 million (2010 - CAD$Nil) unrestricted cash.

Operational

  • Average 2011 production rate at the Company's Trent and Tyne gas fields was 2.7 million MMscfd net to Iona.
  • Spud of the Orlando appraisal and development well and ongoing drilling at year end.

Acquisitions

  • Entered into an option agreement to acquire a 58.8% working interest, including operatorship, in the West Wick oil discovery on UK Block 13/21a.
  • Completed the acquisition of a 20% working interest in the Trent and Tyne gas fields from Perenco UK on May 31, 2011 as planned resulting in net gas production income to the Company effective September 1, 2010.
  • Completed the acquisition of a 35% working interest in the Orlando oil discovery located on UK Block 3/3b. Along with license partners MPX North Sea Limited ("MPX") and Sorgenia E & P UK Limited ("Sorgenia"), the Company plans to work toward a Field Development Plan and fast-track development of the discovery.
  • Signed a Sale and Purchase Agreement with Fairfield Cedrus Ltd. for the acquisition of a 100% Operated interest in the Staffa (since renamed Kells) Oil Field.

Corporate

  • Closed a private placement of Subscription Receipts totaling CAD$69.9 million.
  • Completed the amalgamation of Iona Energy Company Limited ("Former Iona") and Northern Lights Acquisition Corp. ("Northern"), a capital pool company, to form the amalgamated company, Iona Energy Inc. (the "Amalgamation"). The Amalgamation constituted the Qualifying Transaction of Northern pursuant to Policy 2.4 of the TSX Venture Exchange Inc. ("TSX Venture"). Listed the Company's common shares for trading on the TSX Venture under the symbol, "INA".
  • Mr. David Sherrard joined the Company as Chief Development Officer.
  • Mr. Peter Campbell joined the Company as Manager, Commercial Infrastructure.
  • Mr. Colin Tannock joined the Company as Chief of Subsurface.

Reserves

  • Company reserves assessed by Gaffney, Cline & Associates Ltd at the end of 2011:
    • Net 1P Reserves 3.1 million barrels of oil equivalent ("mmboe") (2010: `Nil mmboe)
    • Net 2P Reserves 6.0 mmboe (2010: Nil mmboe)
    • Net 3P Reserves 8.3 mmboe (2010: Nil mmboe)
    • Net 2P Reserves Pre-Tax Net Present Value (assuming a discount rate of 10%) USD$183 million (2010: USD$Nil)

Post Year End Events

  • Completion of the acquisition of the 100% operated interest in the Kells field and fast track development progressing with exploration operatorship application approved by the Department of Energy and Climate Change ("DECC") and submission of a Field Development Plan and Environmental Statement to DECC.
  • Signed a definitive sale and purchase agreement to acquire a 58.8% working interest, including operatorship, in the West Wick oil discovery on UK Block 13/21a.
  • Better than expected well result on the Orlando field.
  • Closing of a CAD$92 million equity financing of common shares.
  • Credit approval for corporate senior secured reserve based lending facility of USD$130 million.
  • Mr. Alan Curran joined the Company as Chief Operating Officer.
  • In March 2012, the UK Government increased the Small Field Allowance ("SFA") tax shelter availability from the 32% Supplemental tax charge for small developments. The size of fields that qualify for full SFA was increased to include all fields with reserves of under 45 mmboe and the tax allowance available to each field has been doubled from approximately US$120million to US$240 million. The expectation is that this change will materially reduce the future effective tax rate of the Company.

"With the recent equity financing, future lending facility and the continued addition of high caliber team members, we are very well positioned to continue with our fast track developments and execute on our 2012 strategy, continuing the growth and success of the Company," commented Brad Gunn, Iona's CFO.

Notes:

The Company's petroleum and natural gas reserves (the "reserves") were independently evaluated by Gaffney, Cline & Associates Ltd ("GCA") in accordance with the Canadian Oil and Gas Evaluation Handbook ("COGEH") reserves definitions and evaluation practices and procedures as specified by National Instrument 51- 101 ("NI 51-101"). The evaluation uses GCA's forecast prices and costs at December 31, 2011. The Company's Form 51-101F1 Statement of reserves data for the year ended December 31, 2011 ("Statement of Reserves Data"), which includes the disclosure and reports relating to reserves data and other oil and gas information along with the Form 51-101F2 Report on Reserves Data by GCA and Form 51-101F3 Report of Management and Directors on Reserves Data and Other Information are available for review at www.sedar.com.

Further details on the above are provided in the Consolidated Financial Statements and Management's Discussion and Analysis for the year ended December 31, 2011, which have been filed with securities regulatory authorities in Canada. These documents are available on the System for Electronic Document Analysis and Retrieval (SEDAR) at www.sedar.com and on the Company's website: www.ionaenergy.com.

Iona is an oil and natural gas acquisition, appraisal, and development corporation active through its 100% wholly owned United Kingdom subsidiary, Iona Energy Company (UK) Ltd. in the United Kingdom's Continental Shelf ("UKCS").

Over the last year, the Company has continued its efforts to acquire strategically aligned assets for its UK portfolio. Iona seeks low-cost, proven undeveloped acquisition targets that are proximate to infrastructure willing and able to accept its production, and where sub-sea tiebacks can be utilized. Employing this strategy facilitates the Company's pursuit of profitable oil and gas production through the effective management of finding and development costs, initial capital expenditure, and lower long-term per barrel operating expenditure and tariffs.

Key Projects Update

Orlando - A proven undeveloped oil discovery

In December 2010, the Company signed a Sale and Purchase Agreement with Wintershall (E&P) Limited ("Wintershall") to acquire their entire 35% equity interest in UKCS License P1606, Block 3/3b (An oil discovery referred to as "Orlando" located in the North Viking Graben area of the UK North Sea) with the transaction closing on March 10, 2011. The consideration payable to Wintershall for the Orlando acquisition was USD$3,000,000 and the Company is required to fund the respective commitment well to the extent of 42.5% to earn a 35% equity interest. The Orlando drilling program is operated by MPX (with a 30% working interest) with Iona and Sorgenia as partners (each with a 35% working interest).

On November 2, 2011, MPX commenced drilling well 3/3b-13 (the "Well") on the Company's Orlando property with the Awilco WilHunter semi-submersible rig (the "Rig") owned by Awilco Drilling plc. As noted above, the Corporation is responsible for funding 42.5% of the cost for the Well, which is the first of the development wells planned for the Orlando property. The Rig was anticipated to be on location for approximately 45 days, however, drilling of the well had been curtailed by both severe weather and mechanical delays. On the 30th of March 2012, the Company was pleased to announce that the Orlando appraisal well 3/3b-13 had reached its total depth target within the planned trajectory for the development well. The top of the reservoir was encountered at approximately 13,286 ft Measured Depth (-11,428 ft True Vertical Depth Sub Sea) and logs show the expected Upper Tarbert reservoir is present and is fully oil bearing and more of the underlying Upper Ness reservoir sands appear to be oil bearing than in the original discovery well (Well 3/3-11). The oil bearing interval within the Upper Ness exceeds management's expectations.

The well has been drilled to a Measured Depth ("MD") of 14,300 feet, and Total Vertical Depth Sub Sea ("TVDSS") of -12,104 feet in Middle Jurassic (Brent reservoir group) sands and shales. Based on a preliminary evaluation of the logs, the Tarbert and Ness Reservoirs correlate strongly with those same units encountered in the original discovery well 3/3-11. Logging shows the Tarbert contains 76 ft of True Vertical Thickness ("TVT") gross sandstone (60 ft Net) and the Ness contains gross 166 ft of TVT gross sandstone (46 ft Net). An estimated oil column on the Orlando Field of approximately 270 ft above the 11,670 ft TVDSS oil water contact, inferred by the 3/3-11 well, has been confirmed by the 3/3b-13 well.

MPX Energy Limited ("MPX"), the Operator, has commenced a side-tracking operation of the well in order to acquire additional reservoir data and fluid samples. Orlando Joint Venture partners, MPX, which is 68% owned by Sorgenia International B. V., and Sorgenia, are jointly funding the operation in order to accelerate the Orlando Field Development Plan ("FDP") submission and to maintain the development schedule. This operation will be at no additional cost, weather risk or risk of mechanical difficulties to Iona. On completion of this operation it is agreed that the well will suspended the for later completion upon approval of the Orlando FDP. Iona does not support the additional cost of side-tracking of the well. The Company is satisfied with the data acquired by the well and believes the data supports the envisaged FDP.

A development concept has been agreed for planning purposes targeting first oil from Orlando in 2013 and allowing long lead procurement. The contract for the procurement of Xmas trees for the development has been awarded to GE Oil & Gas. Production processing is planned for CNRL International's Ninian platform, where a per-barrel tariff has been negotiated at GBP £4.00/bbl.

Trent & Tyne gas production

In November 2010, the Company signed a Letter of Intent with Perenco UK Limited ("Perenco") regarding Iona's acquisition of a 20% working interest in two producing UK Southern North Sea gas fields, the Trent Field (Block 43/24 - License P685) and the Tyne Field (Block 44/18 - License P609) (herein referred to as "Trent & Tyne") with the transaction closing on May 31, 2011. Pursuant to the agreement, Iona committed to fund up to GBP£21,200,000 for the drilling of a production well on the Tyne Field. The planned work program is comprised of a re-entry into the existing T5 well and sidetrack to an up-dip location (the "T5 Sidetrack Well" or "T5-z Well"). The Company's financial exposure will be cost-capped such that, in the event the T5-z Well exceeds the GBP£21,200,000, any additional costs related to the well will be borne 100% by Perenco. Additionally, with respect to an area known as Tyne North West, Iona will have the option to increase its working interest in Trent & Tyne by a further 17.5% (37.5% in total), by committing to fund the drilling of a second well with Perenco as Operator. Again, this drilling program is cost-capped to Iona at GBP£24,650,000, such that any cost overrun beyond this amount will be borne 100% by Perenco.

The Trent & Tyne agreement with Perenco is dated effective September 1, 2010, therefore Iona has received production revenue and paid its share of production related costs associated with approximately 3MMscfd of net gas production as a result of its 20% working interest. The Company anticipates drilling of the T5-z Well during July 2013. Upon completion on tie-in of the T5-z Well, Iona's net Trent & Tyne production initially is expected to increase by approximately 4.3MMscfd (20% working interest to Iona), and furthering this to approximately 12MMscfd (37.5% working interest to Iona) with Iona's commitment to drill the Tyne North West prospect. A successful completion of Tyne North West, which the Company hopes to drill and tie back by Q2 2013, has the potential to increase production by an incremental 11MMscfd (37.5% working interest to Iona).

Kells (previously named "Staffa") - Redevelopment of a proven field

In November 2011, the Company signed a Sale and Purchase Agreement with Fairfield Cedrus Limited ("Fairfield") for the 100% ownership and operatorship in U.K. block 3/8d containing the Kells oil field. On January 19, 2012, the Company completed the acquisition, obtaining full approval from DECC. Under the terms of the Sale and Purchase Agreement, Iona reimbursed Fairfield on closing for USD$8,600,000 in pre-development expenditures related to the Kells field. In addition, upon the approval by DECC of a field development plan in respect of Kells, Iona will be obligated to make a cash payment of USD$5,000,000 to Fairfield and pay a net royalty of USD$2.50 per barrel of production commencing upon first oil from Kells. Since the acquisition, the Company has been focusing on the future development of the Kells field and has had its Exploration Operatorship Application approved by DECC and has submitted a Field Development Plan and Environmental Statement to DECC for approval.

The Kells oil field is located in block 3/8d in the U.K. North Sea and lies approximately 14 kilometres southeast of the producing Ninian Central platform. The Kells field also lies due south of the Orlando oil discovery within block 3/3b in which a 35% working interest is held by Iona. The Kells field is a three-way fault closed structure approximately four km long by two km wide and has a 489-foot (true vertical thickness) oil column in the Upper Brent sandstone reservoirs. The Kells field previously produced at rates of between 5,800 and 10,000 barrels of oil per day (bopd) between the years 1992 and 1994 and ceased production when the Brent crude oil price was approximately $13 to $15 per barrel.

Since the year end, the Company has awarded contracts for the drilling of the Kells development well and also for the Kells field development covering project management, engineering, Xmas trees and procurement of other equipment.

West Wick - Oil Discovery

On April 15th, 2011, Iona Energy Company (UK) Limited entered into an option agreement with Venture North Sea Oil Limited ("Venture") for the right by Iona Energy Company (UK) Limited to purchase a 58.73016% working interest in an oil discovery contained in UK Block 13/21a. Iona exercised its option and on February 3, 2012, the Company signed a binding Sale and Purchase agreement. The transaction and assignment is expected to complete by May 31, 2012 and is currently subject to a pre-emptive right, partner and DECC approval. Under the terms of the Sale and Purchase Agreement, Iona paid to Centrica a holding deposit of USD$3,150,000 in April 2011 and on completion will pay Venture a sum of USD$5,000,000. Upon completion of the acquisition of Centrica's interest in the West Wick Field, the working interests on Block 13/21a will be 58.73% Iona and 41.27% Idemitsu Petroleum UK Ltd.

The Company is currently reviewing its portfolio of assets, both in terms of managing its forward risks and as a means of realizing value to fund ongoing appraisal and development. The review may result in farm-outs, project financing or divestitures of certain assets.

Equity Financing

In December of 2010, Former Iona appointed Wellington West Capital Markets Inc. as lead agent with Mackie Research Capital Corporation and National Bank Financial Inc. as syndicate partners to raise up to CAD$60,000,000 through a private placement of subscription receipts priced at CAD$0.60 per unit, with each receipt entitling the holder to one common share in the capital stock of the Company upon the completion of certain events. The financing closed on March 10, 2011, with $69.9 million raised as a result of an increased level of interest via the issue of 116,485,090 Subscription Receipts. The proceeds were held in escrow pending completion of certain events. On March 10, 2011, as a result of the closing of the Orlando acquisition, CAD$23,000,000 was released from escrow and 38,333,333 Subscription Receipts were automatically converted into 38,333,333 common shares of Former Iona. On May 31, 2011, the remaining funds were released with the conversion of the remaining 78,151,757 Subscription Receipts into Common Shares as a result of the closing of the Trent & Tyne Acquisition and the completion of the Qualifying Transaction.

Qualifying Transaction

On April 19, 2011, Former Iona and Northern entered into an amalgamation agreement dated April 19, 2011 (the "Amalgamation Agreement") pursuant to which Former Iona and Northern agreed to amalgamate under the provisions of the ABCA to form Iona. Pursuant to the Amalgamation Agreement, on May 27, 2011, Iona issued one (1) common share for each one (1) Former Iona common share held by a Former Iona shareholder and 0.342935528 common shares for each one (1) Northern common share ("Northern Share") held by a Northern shareholder. An aggregate of 60,908,398 common shares were issued to former Former Iona shareholders (in exchange for the 60,908,398 outstanding Former Iona common shares) and an aggregate of 1,800,412 common shares were issued to Northern shareholders (in exchange for the 5,250,000 outstanding Northern Shares), all at a deemed price of $0.60 per common share. The amalgamation constituted the Qualifying Transaction of Northern pursuant to the CPC Policy of the TSX Venture.

General and Administrative Expenditure

General and administrative costs for the three months and year ended December 31, 2011 have increased from the comparative period of 2010 as a result of increased operations, the Company's public listing on the TSX Venture Exchange, financing, option grants and a one-time charge related to the NLAC acquisition. Costs are expected to continue to increase as the Company continues to staff up its operations.

The stock option charge represents the fair value of the Company's stock options amortized over the respective vesting period via the graded vesting method. Pursuant to the plan, the Board of Directors determines the vesting provisions of the stock options at the date of grant. All of the options granted to date under the plan vest as follows: 1/4 immediately and 1/4 vesting on the first, second and third anniversary dates. All unvested options vest upon the change of control of the Company. The options are non-transferable. The minimum exercise price is based on trading price of the Company's common shares on the date prior to the day of the grant less any applicable discount permitted by the TSX Venture Exchange. The future expense will vary as it is dependent on the number and vesting provisions of future stock option grants.

During the year ended December 31, 2011, the Company was charged CAD$373,000 in legal fees of which CAD$98,000 related to share issuance costs by a law firm where a director of the Company is a partner and the balance resulting from transactions and general operations. Included in accounts payable and accrued liabilities as at December 31, 2011 is CAD$190,000 related to the legal fees incurred. The related party transactions are in the normal course of operations and measured at exchange amounts which are incurred under the same terms or conditions with other third parties.

Exploration and Evaluation

During the three month period and year ended December 31, 2011, CAD$8,867,000 and CAD$27,267,000, respectively of exploration and evaluation assets were capitalized. Details of the Company's properties have previously been discussed under the heading Key Projects Update. Costs of CAD$15,793,000 were capitalised in the year in relation to the drilling of the Orlando well. A further CAD$6,086,000 was capitalised as a result of the Orlando and West Wick acquisitions and CAD$5,388,000 of other exploration and evaluation expenditure was capitalised across the assets. The majority of the expenditure in the quarter related to the drilling of the Orlando well.

As at December 31, 2011 and as of the date of this press release no costs are considered to be impaired, however, the assets have not yet determined to be technically feasible and commercially viable.

The Company's exploration and evaluation expense in the income statement represents all pre-license costs and the capitalized costs from exploration and evaluation assets that have been expensed. These costs represent unrecoverable exploration and evaluation costs associated with an area and costs incurred prior to obtaining the legal rights to explore. The costs included in exploration and evaluation expense include pre-license costs and licence relinquishments. During the three months and year ended December 31, 2011, CAD$149,000 (2010 - CAD$194,000) and CAD$348,000 (2010 - CAD$424,000), respectively of pre-license costs were incurred. Also, following completion of geotechnical evaluation activity, the decision was made post year end to relinquish the Solway Firth license and therefore the carrying value of the license of CAD$197,000 (2010 - CAD$Nil) was expensed.

To view the Company's complete consolidated financial statements and management's discussion and analysis for the year ended December 31, 2011 or for further information about Iona please go to the Company's website at www.ionaenergy.com or SEDAR (www.SEDAR.com).

Forward-looking statements

Some of the statements in this announcement are forward-looking, including statements regarding Iona's plans for the development of its properties. Forward-looking statements include statements regarding the intent, belief and current expectations of Iona Energy Inc. or its officers with respect to various matters. When used in this announcement, the words "expects," "believes," "anticipate," "plans," "may," "will," "should", "scheduled", "targeted", "estimated" and similar expressions, and the negatives thereof, whether used in connection with estimated production levels and future activity or otherwise, are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Such statements are not promises or guarantees, and are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual outcome to differ materially from those suggested by any such statements. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this announcement. Iona Energy Inc. expressly disclaims any obligation or undertaking to release publicly any updates or revisions to any forward-looking statement contained herein to reflect any change in its expectations with regard thereto or any change in events, conditions or circumstances on which any forward-looking statement is based except as required by applicable securities laws.

Note: "Boe" means barrel of oil equivalent on the basis of 6 mcf of natural gas to 1 bbl of oil. Boes may be misleading, particularly if used in isolation. A boe conversion ratio of 6 mcf: 1 bbl is based on an energy equivalency conversion method primarily applicable at the burner tip and does not represent a value equivalency at the wellhead. As used in this press release, possible reserves are those additional reserves that are less certain to be recovered than probable reserves. There is a 10% probability that the quantities actually recovered will equal or exceed the sum of proved plus probable plus possible reserves.

Additionally, this news release uses certain abbreviations as follows

Oil and Natural Gas Liquids Natural Gas
bbls barrels mcf thousand cubic feet
Mbbls thousand barrels mcf/d thousand cubic feet per day
MMbbls million barrels scf standard cubic foot
bbls/d barrels per day MMscf millions of standard cubic feet
bopd barrels of oil per day MMscf/d millions of standard cubic feet per day
NGLs natural gas liquids Bscf billion standard cubic feet

Neither the TSX Venture Exchange Inc. nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.

Contact Information

  • Iona Energy Company
    Neill A. Carson
    Chief Executive Officer
    +011 (44) 7919 057989

    Iona Energy Company
    Brad G. Gunn
    Chief Financial Officer
    (403) 775-7442
    info@ionaenergy.com