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Gas Discovery in Alberta Drives Montello toward 12-Month High

oil, gas, investing ,mining, drilling, exploration, junior, business, finance, tsx, meo, montello, energy

With oil prices over $80 per barrel, storm activity in the Gulf of Mexico and a cold winter predicted ahead elsewhere, not to mention worldwide demand for crude oil poised to rise again during the fourth quarter of 2007, now is a great time to be an oil and gas junior. One company taking full advantage of the sector’s upswing with successes of their own is Montello Resources (TSX-V: MEO). This emerging oil and gas company is engaged in drilling and exploration activities on their properties in Canada and the United States – with potential for blue sky payloads in both zones, particularly in Tennessee. Recent successes have garnered Montello a little increased investor attention in the past few weeks, with positive re-completion in Alberta and drilling approaching depth in Tennessee.

The company has a broad investor base, with approximately 150 million shares outstanding, and with new investors piling on, current trading volume is well up over one million shares a day. This increased volume is not surprising, considering that share prices in Montello have gained over 25% in the last month, not to mention the fact that Montello has now surpassed its 12-month high. Last Friday, more than 19 million shares MEO shares changed hands. On that day, the company was the leading volume trader on the TSX Venture exchange. On Monday, Montello was still trading exceptionally high at over 10 million shares.

Some of this success can be attributed to Montello recently announcing (October 4th 2007) positive re-completion results for its jointly owned Pincher Creek project – Montello owns a 25% interest with Paramount Resources holding 25%, a private company owning 12.5%, and the remaining 37.5% being retained by the operator, Pennine Petroleum Corp (TSX-V:PNN). The project, which covers over 4,800 acres, is located approximately 175 kilometres south of Calgary, in the prolific Pincher Creek Field. Since 1947, the field has produced approximately one million bbls of oil and 600 BCF (billion cubic feet) of gas, with estimates of over 220 BCF of gas still remaining to be produced. The region itself, which includes such fields as: Lookout Butte, Turner Valley, and Jumping Pound, have produced more than one trillion cubic feet gas and over 100 million bbls of associated liquids.

Montello’s JV partner Pennine recently completed (September 27th 2007) two 60-tonne fracture simulations on the Brown Sand and Cadomin/Kootenay section of the Pincher Creek project, with results uncovering two condensate zones. Both tested between 40 and 46 degrees, plus associated gas, with initial extended flow test results of over 330 boepd where none were pumping before.

The Brown Sand zone yielded an average production of 140 barrels of fluid a day with an initial water cut of 60% for a net 56 boepd and is expected to increase as frac fluid further drains. Montello is planning further exploration in the Brown Sand zone to assess feasibility.

Preliminary swab and flow results for the Cadomin/ Kootenay formation were more promising, having returned an average of 225 barrels of fluid a day with no water cut, and as much as 500 mcf of gas per day which can potentially translate to an additional equivalent of over 70 boepd.
Pennine has announced that they intend to install pumping equipment and the required production facilities to test the Cadomin/ Kootenay zone, and following positive results, may submit a Commingling Application to the Alberta Energy Utility Board, in order to take full advantage of the well. An existing pipe line is accessible to transport the gas, with plans for liquids to be taken out by truck to a processing facility. Pennine plans to announce the stabilized liquid and gas production rates following stabilized production.

With the success of recent drilling activities in Alberta, Montello and Pennine plan to follow sand development across the Pincher Creek structure and access hydrocarbon-baring sand via existing well-bores.

Montello is also involved in exploration and drilling activities (with JV partners Great Northern Oil Sands Inc. and Austin Developments Corp.) on its Morgan Highpoint project, located in the Tennessee Appalachians. The project is situated in a precarious but prolific region, near the spot where in 2002 Pryor Oil suffered a massive blow-out on its Howard-White #1 well when its drill penetrated an area containing highly pressurized oil. Incredibly, hydrocarbon fluids spewed up and out of the ground at a rate of 12,000 bbls a day and caught fire. The government stepped in and halted work on the project – permanently.

On its neighbouring property, Montello is using advanced techniques to literally “dig deep”, in an attempt to find the source of the Pryor Oil blow out or similar pockets. Montello recently announced that drilling at its John Bowen # 2 well had passed 7,780 feet in the Rogersville Formation and entered the Rome formation at 7,850. The location of the monster payload that caused the blow-out at the nearby Howard-White #1 remains illusive, but a possibility as the company continues toward basement, which is a first for the area – and is believed to be between 8,500 and 9,500 feet deep.

Resourcex Investor asked Marc Davis, a director for Montello, if he was happy with the rate of progress for the Tennessee project, and why no one else had ever tried or been able to drill this deep in this area before.

“It has been tough going, you know. This is a difficult environment to work; the rock is very dense. At the same time, we’ve seen very encouraging results and believe ourselves to be a few days away from hitting basement.”

Davis continued, “As for how we have been able to drill deeper than anyone before in this part of Tennessee, it has everything to do with money. Other companies in Tennessee simply have not had the opportunity to go that deep. But we think we could be close to a sizable pay off here.”

The cost of the well, initially estimated at $3 million US, (Montello paid 10% of this) has escalated to US $5 million, to date. Early in October, the company announced, “A Supplementary Authorization For Expenditure ("AFE") of USD $1.7 million has been issued to the partners based on their earned interests in the Test Well being Montello as to 55%, Austin as to 40% and Great Northern as to 5%. All partners have paid their proportionate share of the cash call associated with the Supplementary AFE.”

When asked which property he thinks is most important to Montello at the moment, Davis replied, “Tennessee as it has the greatest potential, but Pincher Creek [in Alberta] is money in the bag.”

With the recent activity at both their Tennessee and Alberta projects, Montello seems to be garnering more investor interest than ever before. On October 12, volume trading surged past 13 million shares, pushing the stock price past $0.20 for the first time in 12 months. And the volume has continued to be very heavy. Whether this activity is due to speculation of success in Tennessee or Alberta (or both) is hard to say. But the excitement in MEO’s stock charts is palpable.

This article is intended for information purposes only, and is not a recommendation to buy or sell the equities of any company mentioned herein. It is based on sources believed to be reliable, but no warranty as to accuracy is expressed or implied. The opinions expressed in the article are those of the author except where statements are attributed to individuals other than the author, in which case the opinions are those of the individual to whom they are attributed.
Published: 2007-10-18
Author: Myles Kirk

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