Next Investors logo grey

88E Fails to Hit Production-Test Worthy Reservoir Section in Alaska


Published 30-MAR-2022 12:49 P.M.


4 minute read

Disclosure: The authors of this article and owners of Next Investors, S3 Consortium Pty Ltd, and associated entities, own 3,800,000 88E shares at the time of publication. S3 Consortium Pty Ltd has been engaged by 88E to share our commentary and opinion on the progress of our investment in 88E over time.

After confirming an oil reservoir in last year’s drilling event, this morning 88E announced that they failed to hit a “production-test worthy” section of the reservoir they had just drilled in Alaska.

Our investment in 88E is a high-risk, high-reward position for us and like clockwork they drill a high impact oil well around this time each year.

88E struck oil in their Merlin-1 well around this time last year and the share price re-rated from around 0.8c to trade in a range of 2.5c to 5c for the next 12 months in the lead up to today’s Merlin-2 news, and has now come back to around 1.6c as the market digests the news.

We intend to follow up this note with a more comprehensive analysis of 88E, but here is our quick take on what happened...

(Because the market moves so quickly, we’ve launched a Quick Takes page, where we provide a live feed of quick comments (a few paragraphs) on what we think of an announcement, macro event or media article that is related to any of our investments. Bookmark the page to see new information on this page every day)

Our Quick Take on 88E’s news this morning:

88E put out an update with respect to its wireline logging program which is now nearing completion.

The wireline program was designed to test reservoir quality and ultimately would be the final step of testing before a production test could be done over the Merlin-2 appraisal well.

Unfortunately this morning 88E confirmed that provisional analysis of the wireline logging program showed that the reservoir quality was insufficient and would not be enough to warrant a production testing program.

... so we don’t even reach the starting line where the company runs a production test to assess the oil flow rates.

88E has now confirmed that the Merlin-2 well would be plugged and abandoned before a detailed evaluation of all the drilling data can be obtained.

As further analysis is released by the company we will reset our investment plan for 88E for the next 12 months, also taking into account today’s news.

The announcement went live on the London exchange overnight (Aus time), with the share down ~65% from £0.02 (3.5c AUD) to now trade around the £0.007 (1.2c AUD) mark.

At the time of writing this, the ASX has reacted in a similar fashion with the share price touching 1.3c at the open before settling around ~1.6c where it is trading now.

After big binary drilling events which lead to a disappointing result, we often see a market sell off that assumes the company has no other projects or assets...

This is not the position 88E is in, as it also has the recently acquired portfolio of production assets in Texas, USA, multiple other projects in Alaska (Project Icewine and the Yukon assets), plus other drilling prospects over its Project Peregrine acreage.

We have a well documented investment strategy when it comes to big binary drilling events with our oil & gas exploration investments. In our 2022 88E Investment Memo we set out and followed a clear investment strategy for 88E, like we do for all our investments.

We also recorded in the risks section of our 2022 Investment Memo that there was a scenario where the Merlin-2 well returned no commercial oil discovery.

We always like to record the risks to an investment so that announcements like today don’t come as a surprise. Of course we hope our portfolio companies are successful but with high risk investing it is important to cut out the emotion and focus on facts.

Below is a screenshot of the risks section from our 2022 Investment Memo for 88E, unfortunately in this drill campaign one of the key risks materialised:

88E Risks

Although 88E did in fact find oil and gas in the Merlin-2 appraisal well, it was not of high enough quality to warrant a production test which is still a failure in terms of the overall outcome.

As recorded in our investment plan for 88E (in our memo here) we held a de-risked position into the drill result (in case it WAS a success) and now expect the company to detail its forward plan for the rest of the year across its exploration assets in Alaska, as well as its newly acquired production assets in Texas, USA, at which point we will reassess our investment plan.

In case you missed it, here is all of our quick take coverage in the lead up to the 88E drilling event. Bookmark this page to get all of our latest commentary on 88E:

30-Mar: Wireline logging program unsuccessful at the Merlin-2 well

29-Mar: Merlin-2 reaches total depth. Wireline testing commenced

23-Mar: Merlin-2 Well Reaches Total Depth

18-Mar: Drilling program going to plan on Alaskan North Slope

10-Mar: Merlin-2 oil well spudded

04-Mar: Exploration Update

01-Mar: Drill rig mobilised on site at the Merlin-2 appraisal well

General Information Only

S3 Consortium Pty Ltd (S3, ‘we’, ‘us’, ‘our’) (CAR No. 433913) is a corporate authorised representative of LeMessurier Securities Pty Ltd (AFSL No. 296877). The information contained in this article is general information and is for informational purposes only. Any advice is general advice only. Any advice contained in this article does not constitute personal advice and S3 has not taken into consideration your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Please seek your own independent professional advice before making any financial investment decision. Those persons acting upon information contained in this article do so entirely at their own risk.

Conflicts of Interest Notice

S3 and its associated entities may hold investments in companies featured in its articles, including through being paid in the securities of the companies we provide commentary on. We disclose the securities held in relation to a particular company that we provide commentary on. Refer to our Disclosure Policy for information on our self-imposed trading blackouts, hold conditions and de-risking (sell conditions) which seek to mitigate against any potential conflicts of interest.

Publication Notice and Disclaimer

The information contained in this article is current as at the publication date. At the time of publishing, the information contained in this article is based on sources which are available in the public domain that we consider to be reliable, and our own analysis of those sources. The views of the author may not reflect the views of the AFSL holder. Any decision by you to purchase securities in the companies featured in this article should be done so after you have sought your own independent professional advice regarding this information and made your own inquiries as to the validity of any information in this article.

Any forward-looking statements contained in this article are not guarantees or predictions of future performance, and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors, many of which are beyond our control, and which may cause actual results or performance of companies featured to differ materially from those expressed in the statements contained in this article. S3 cannot and does not give any assurance that the results or performance expressed or implied by any forward-looking statements contained in this article will actually occur and readers are cautioned not to put undue reliance on forward-looking statements.

This article may include references to our past investing performance. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of our future investing performance.