This excerpt taken from the MRO 10-K filed Mar 1, 2007.
A substantial or extended decline in oil or natural gas prices, as well as refined product gross margins, would reduce our operating results and cash flows and could adversely impact our future rate of growth and the carrying value of our assets.
Prices for oil and natural gas and refined product gross margins fluctuate widely. Our revenues, operating results and future rate of growth are highly dependent on the prices we receive for our oil, natural gas and refined products. Historically, the markets for oil, natural gas and refined products have been volatile and may continue to be volatile in the future. Many of the factors influencing prices of oil, natural gas and refined products are beyond our control. These factors include:
The long-term effects of these and other factors on the prices of oil and natural gas, as well as on refined product gross margins, are uncertain.
Lower oil and natural gas prices, as well as lower refined product gross margins, may reduce the amount of these commodities that we produce, which may reduce our revenues, operating income and cash flows. Significant reductions in oil and natural gas prices or refined product gross margins could require us to reduce our capital expenditures and impair the carrying value of our assets.
Estimates of oil and natural gas reserves depend on many factors and assumptions, including various assumptions that are based on conditions in existence as of the dates of the estimates. Any material changes in those conditions or other factors affecting those assumptions could impair the quantity and value of our oil and natural gas reserves.
The proved oil and natural gas reserves information related to Marathon included in this report has been derived from engineering estimates. Those estimates were prepared by our in-house teams of reservoir engineers and geoscience professionals and reviewed, on a selected basis, by our Corporate Reserves Group and/or third-party consultants we have retained. The estimates were calculated using oil and natural gas prices in effect as of December 31, 2006, as well as other conditions in existence as of that date. Any significant future price changes will have a material effect on the quantity and present value of our proved reserves. Future reserve revisions could also result from changes in, among other things, governmental regulation and severance and other production taxes.
Reserve estimation is a subjective process that involves estimating volumes to be recovered from underground accumulations of oil and natural gas that cannot be directly measured. Estimates of economically recoverable oil and natural gas reserves and of future net cash flows depend upon a number of variable factors and assumptions, including:
As a result, different petroleum engineers, each using industry-accepted geologic and engineering practices and scientific methods, may produce different estimates of reserves and future net cash flows based on the same available data. Because of the subjective nature of oil and natural gas reserve estimates, each of the following items may differ materially from the amounts or other factors estimated:
The discounted future net revenues from our proved reserves reflected in this report should not be considered as the market value of the reserves attributable to our properties. As required by SEC Rule 4-10 of Regulation S-X, the estimated discounted future net revenues from our proved reserves are based on prices and costs as of the date of the estimate, while actual future prices and costs may be materially higher or lower.
In addition, the 10 percent discount factor required by the applicable rules of the SEC to be used to calculate discounted future net revenues for reporting purposes is not necessarily the most appropriate discount factor based on our cost of capital and the risks associated with our business and the oil and natural gas industry in general.