PACIFIC COAST OIL TRUST (NYSE:ROYT) (the “Trust”), a royalty trust formed by Pacific Coast Energy Company LP (“PCEC”), announced today that there will be no cash distribution to the holders of its units of beneficial interest of record on March 16, 2020 based on the Trust’s calculation of net profits generated during January 2020 (the “current month”) as provided in the conveyance of net profits interests and overriding royalty interest. All information in this press release has been provided to the Trustee by PCEC.
The current month’s distribution calculation for the Developed Properties resulted in $1.0 million of revenues less direct operating expenses and development costs. Revenues from the Developed Properties were $3.4 million, lease operating expenses including property taxes were $2.4 million, and development costs were approximately $97,000. The average realized price for the Developed Properties was $61.40 per Boe in January, as compared to $63.55 per Boe in December. The cumulative net profits deficit amount for the Developed Properties, reflecting the deduction of the estimated asset retirement obligation (“ARO”) relating to the Developed Properties as discussed below under “Update on Estimated Asset Retirement Obligations,” was approximately $25.8 million, which will be subtracted from any future net profits until the cumulative net profits deficit for the Developed Properties has been reduced to zero.
The current month’s calculation included approximately $84,000 for the 7.5% overriding royalty interest on the Remaining Properties from Orcutt Diatomite and Orcutt Field. Average realized prices for the Remaining Properties were $59.34 per Boe in January, as compared $61.34 per Boe in December. The cumulative net profits deficit for the Remaining Properties, including the 7.5% overriding royalty interest payments and reflecting the deduction of the estimated ARO relating to the Remaining Properties as discussed below under “Update on Estimated Asset Retirement Obligations,” was approximately $3.3 million.
The monthly operating and services fee of approximately $77,000 payable to PCEC, which reflected a credit of approximately $16,000 relating to funds that were erroneously added to the operating and services fee for December 2019, and Trust general and administrative expenses of $70,000, together exceeded the distribution of approximately $84,000 received from PCEC from the 7.5% overriding royalty interest on the Remaining Properties, creating a shortfall of approximately $63,000.
PCEC has provided the Trust with a $1 million letter of credit to be used by the Trust if its cash on hand (including available cash reserves) is not sufficient to pay ordinary course administrative expenses as they become due. Further, if the Trust requires more than the $1 million under the letter of credit to pay administrative expenses, PCEC may loan funds to the Trust necessary to pay such expenses. Any funds provided under the letter of credit or loaned by PCEC may only be used for the payment of current accounts or other obligations to trade creditors in connection with obtaining goods or services or for the payment of other accrued current liabilities arising in the ordinary course of the Trust’s business. The Trust will be borrowing funds from PCEC to pay the expected shortfall of approximately $63,000, bringing the total amount of outstanding funds borrowed from PCEC to approximately $257,000. Consequently, no further distributions will be made to Trust unitholders until the indebtedness created by such amounts drawn or borrowed, including interest thereon, has been paid in full.
Sales Volumes and Prices
The following table displays PCEC’s underlying sales volumes and average prices for the month of January 2020:
Developed Properties (a)
Remaining Properties (b)
(a) Crude oil sales represented 98% of sales volumes
(b) Crude oil sales represented 100% of sales volumes
Update on Estimated Asset Retirement Obligations
As previously disclosed, in November 2019, PCEC informed the Trustee that, as permitted by the agreements governing the conveyances to the Trust, PCEC intended to begin deducting its estimated ARO associated with the West Pico, Orcutt Hill, Orcutt Hill Diatomite, East Coyote and Sawtelle fields reducing the amounts payable to the Trust under its Net Profits Interest. ARO is the accounting recognition related to plugging and abandonment obligations that all operators face. PCEC engaged an accounting firm to assist PCEC in determining its estimated ARO, and on February 27, 2020, PCEC informed the Trustee that PCEC’s estimate of its ARO, as of December 31, 2019, is $45,695,643, which is approximately $10.0 million less than the originally estimated amount as previously disclosed in the Trust’s Current Report on Form 8-K filed on November 13, 2019. According to PCEC, the estimated ARO, which reflects PCEC’s assessment of current market conditions and recent changes in California law, was determined to be approximately $33.2 million for the Developed Properties and approximately $12.5 million for the Remaining Properties, and PCEC has reflected these amounts in the calculation of the net profits generated during January 2020. The Trustee has asked PCEC for an explanation of its calculation. The consulting firm engaged by the Trustee to review PCEC’s original estimate of its ARO is continuing its review and will also need information regarding PCEC’s more recent estimate in order to evaluate it. The actual ARO incurred in the future may exceed the estimated amounts provided by PCEC.
Based on PCEC’s estimate of its ARO attributable to the Net Profits Interest, deductions relating to estimated ARO are likely to eliminate the likelihood of significant distributions to Trust unitholders for the next several years, as previously disclosed in the Trust’s Current Report on Form 8-K filed on November 13, 2019.
As described in more detail in the Trust’s filings with the SEC, the Trust will terminate if the annual cash distributions received by the Trust from the Net Profits Interest and Royalty Interest total less than $2.0 million for each of any two consecutive calendar years. PCEC is deducting estimated ARO, thereby reducing the amounts payable to the Trust unless significant market changes were to occur; therefore, it appears likely that total distributions to the Trust will total less than $2.0 million in each of 2020 and 2021. The Trust may also be terminated by other events as described in the Trust’s filings with the SEC.
Overview of Trust Structure
Pacific Coast Oil Trust is a Delaware statutory trust formed by PCEC to own interests in certain oil and gas properties in the Santa Maria Basin and the Los Angeles Basin in California (the “Underlying Properties”). The Underlying Properties and the Trust’s net profits and royalty interests are described in the Trust’s filings with the SEC. As described in the Trust’s filings with the SEC, the amount of any periodic distributions is expected to fluctuate, depending on the proceeds received by the Trust as a result of actual production volumes, oil and gas prices, development expenses, and the amount and timing of the Trust’s administrative expenses, among other factors. For additional information on the Trust, please visit www.pacificcoastoiltrust.com.
Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Information
This press release contains statements that are "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. All statements contained in this press release, other than statements of historical facts, are "forward-looking statements" for purposes of these provisions. These forward-looking statements include estimates of future asset retirement obligations, expectations regarding the impact of deductions for such obligations on future distributions to unitholders, estimates of future total distributions to unitholders in 2020 and 2021, and the amount and date of any anticipated distribution to unitholders. In any case, PCEC’s deductions of its estimated asset retirement obligations will have a material adverse effect on distributions to the unitholders and on the trading price of the Trust units, and may result in the termination of the Trust. Any anticipated distribution is based, in part, on the amount of cash received or expected to be received by the Trust from PCEC with respect to the relevant period. Any differences in actual cash receipts by the Trust could affect this distributable amount. The amount of such cash received or expected to be received by the Trust (and its ability to pay distributions) has been and will be significantly and negatively affected by prevailing low commodity prices, which have declined significantly, could decline further and could remain low for an extended period of time. Other important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially include expenses related to the operation of the Underlying Properties, including lease operating expenses, expenses of the Trust, and reserves for anticipated future expenses. Statements made in this press release are qualified by the cautionary statements made in this press release. Neither PCEC nor the Trustee intends, and neither assumes any obligation, to update any of the statements included in this press release. An investment in units issued by Pacific Coast Oil Trust is subject to the risks described in the Trust's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2018 filed with the SEC on March 8, 2019, and if applicable, the Trust’s subsequent Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q. The Trust's Annual Reports on Form 10-K and Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q are available over the Internet at the SEC's website at http://www.sec.gov.
The Bank of New York Mellon Trust Company, N.A., as Trustee