Continental Resources had its initial public offering in May of 2007 and its stock price has more than tripled since then. Continental's engineers have been using high-end extraction techniques for nearly a decade, giving them an established knowledge of the intricacies of technologies like horizontal drilling - a boon in a market where record-high oil prices have made such expensive techniques cost-efficient. The majority of its reserves - around 77% - are filled with oil, giving the company more exposure to oil prices than to natural gas prices, which have also trended upwards, but to a much lesser degree. These reserves, located primarily in the Rocky Mountains, are also mostly unconventional, meaning they can produce well but are dependent on high-cost drilling techniques - risky to hold in the event that oil prices drop, as the company's margins, which have been over 50% for the last three years, would collapse. Continental competes with other onshore E&P companies like Cabot Oil & Gas, XTO Energy, Unit, Forest Oil, Equitable Resources, and Cimarex Energy Co.
Continental Resources has been an independent oil and gas exploration company ince 1967, though the company only went public in May of 2007. It has reserves totaling 134.6 MMBoe, 77% of which are filled with oil (the rest with natural gas). 82% are located in the Rocky Mountains, and the rest are distributed between the Woodford Shale and other mid-continent and Gulf Coast fields.
Continental's reserves are concentrated in regions that have seen little attention from larger, publicly-traded companies because of the high cost of developing them. For this reason, the company has had years of developing unconventional reserves without competition, developing a skill set that has come in handy in a high oil price environment. With oil prices at record highs, oil companies are all scrambling to ramp up production, and are willing to use expensive extraction techniques to get at difficult-to-access reserves; Continental's experience allows to use these techniques at lower cost and higher efficiency.
In 2009, CLR generated a net income of $71.4 million on revenues of $610.7 million. This represents a 77.8% decrease in net income and a 35.9% decrease in total revenues from 2008, when the company earned $321.0 million on $939.9 million in revenue.
Up until 2007, Continental was a private corporation, and so was able to focus on developing high-end extraction technologies and crew expertise in ways that public E&P companies couldn't because oil prices were low and so returns on such techniques weren't as high. The company went public at a time when oil prices were on their way to record highs, giving the company the advantage of a decade of unconventional drilling experience. While many of Continental's reserves are in large, high-output fields, they are also relatively unconventional formations - they require expensive, unconventional drilling technologies like horizontal drilling and enhanced extraction techniques to produce. In the Red River fields of the Rocky Mountains, for example, the company has over 50% of its reserves, and has already drilled 235 horizontal wells, versus just 18 conventional, vertical wells.
Whether it’s because of the desire for energy independence, the rising price of oil, or fears of climate change, public opinion has turned away from petroleum, and is driving government policy changes that encourage the adoption of alternative fuels. Environmentalists have been calling for a shift to renewable energy for years, and though the river of change is running slow, it is running deep. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 is the first step towards a grander series of changes. By forcing automakers to achieve 35 mpg by 2020 and setting a Renewable Fuel Standard of 36 billion gallons of biofuels in 2022, the Act has potential to get the ball rolling to greatly reduce American dependence on hydrocarbons.
Already, 26 states across the country have adopted Renewable Energy Standards to increase the share of renewables in their energy mixes, while both Democratic candidates for President have pledged to reduce carbon emissions 80%, to below 1990 levels by 2050. While the Republican candidate isn't so tough on climate action, he still supports a strong cap-and-trade system. In emerging markets like China and India, the drive for economic growth supersedes environmental concerns, but CLR sells all its petroleum to the U.S. companies, a changing American environmental and energy legislation landscape would be disastrous to its business without the development of some effective carbon sequestration technology.
With all of its reserves on land, Continental competes with other U.S. onshore E&P companies.