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Although Arsenal Energy has experienced rapid growth in
North America, they could have exponential growth in Egypt as they begin drilling in 2006
Oil & Gas
Arsenal Energy Inc.
Suite 1800, 505 3rd Street, SW
Calgary AB Canada T2P 3E6
Michael S. Vandale
Chairman, President and CEO
Interview conducted by:
Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor
October 20 2005
Michael Vandale President & CEO - Chairman of Directors
A veteran of the oil industry, Michael Vandale has had a long list of successful oil and
gas ventures. He was President of Sundance Resources Inc. listed on the TSX Venture
Exchange and was a director of its successor company, True Energy Inc. listed on the
Toronto Stock Exchange until the fall of 2002 when he started Arsenal Energy Inc. From
1997 to 1999, Mr. Vandale was a director and major shareholder of Mutual Fund Direct Inc.
until it was sold to Altamira Investment Services Inc. From 1992 to 1996, Mr. Vandale was
President of Midwestern Energy Company Limited. Mr. Vandale has more than 20 years
experience in upstream oil and gas exploration and midstream operations in Canada, the United
States and South America.
ARSENAL ENERGY INC.
Arsenal Energy Inc. is an aggressive junior energy company focused on the economic
exploration, acquisition, development and sale of oil and natural gas in specific
Arsenals senior management team and board of directors are steadfast in their
resolve not to follow the pack, and thereby continue to generate true value
for their shareholders. Their philosophy combines a base level of long term oil and gas
reserves matched with significant, world-class exploration impact prospects in order to
meet rapid growth objectives.
Arsenal Energy Inc. currently has holdings in Canada, the United States and Egypt with its
corporate headquarters in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
CEOCFO: Mr. Vandale,
please tell us what your vision was when you started in 2002 and where you are today?
Mr. Vandale: I think that we have grown four-fold since
last year. Currently Canada is a little different than the U.S., with the emergence
of energy trusts. It is a convenient way for a defined start-up company to evolve or
eventually sell in a four-year period through entrance and exit strategy. I think that the
oil business is really in a unique situation in Canada, where people actually start
businesses and sell them off in four years. During that period, we have grown into the United
States and in particular North Dakota. We have a good production base there. In Canada, weve
picked-up another company called Quadra Resources Corporation (CNQ-QDRA.U) and it has
shown a tremendous amount of up side potential in the 7.5 million acre concession we hold
with TransGlobe Energy Corporation of Calgary, which is listed on the AMEX, symbol TGA and
Toronto exchange, symbol TGL. I think that we are going to a far greater horizon in the
CEOCFO: So you decided not to follow the pack?
Mr. Vandale: Thats really what we did. In these
incidences with junior oil companies in Canada, you see a push to build domestic
production with the sole purpose of selling out or converting to an energy trust. When we
realized that we had a really good and solid production base that we could grow
domestically, in the Canada and the U.S., we were ready to acquire a high impact
world-class exploration prospect with the Egypt concession. I think that we are quite a
bit different than what is available to the investor for small cap oils in the market.
CEOCFO: Do investors realize the difference?
Mr. Vandale: We are just starting to get the story out
now. Weve built slowly and now all of a sudden I think that weve really got
our momentum. People are starting to respond to us now. We are listed on the Toronto
exchange under the ticker AEI and we have a lot of information on our website, which is www.arsenalenergy.com.
CEOCFO: Tell us about Northern Alberta?
Mr. Vandale: Northern Alberta on the Peace River Arch
is growth area for us. Light oil is hard to target, but the quality there is pretty close
to WTI (West Texas Intermediate). We brought it in at a swab rate of about 390 barrels a
day, the second has just been completed, and we brought that in at about a rate of 300
barrels a day. We are doing well with the first two and a third one is being drilled with
a fourth one ready to go by the end of October."
CEOCFO: How does that mesh with what you are doing in Egypt?
Mr. Vandale: I guess that it really doesnt. Weve
decided to have three core areas, North Dakota in the U.S., Canada through Saskatchewan
and Alberta and then Egypt is a stand alone by itself. Weve picked up a concession,
which we call the Nuqra Concession that is on the east side of the Nile river in the Komombo
Rift Basin. Rift Basins traditionally hold between a billion to ten billion barrels in
reserves and this particular basin is widely unexplored. Only five holes were drilled
previously by Repsol into this tremendously large area. The basin is about twice the size
of Switzerland, and all of the wells had oil or oil shows. We have gone ahead with our
partner and reprocessed about 4,000 kilometers of seismic and we are currently shooting
another thousand kilometers. We have a number of targets already picked, with calculated
potential reserves and then in any of these particular areas probably somewhere between 50
to 100 million barrels per target. Weve got about 8 of those features so far and if
people want to see how we picked them and calculated them, they can go to our website.
CEOCFO: Why was that not looked at previously?
Mr. Vandale: There are a number of reasons. Repsol, the
Spanish company was in there before us in 1998 and there were some problems; number one
being the price of oil back then, which was around $14.00. They also ran into a number of
problems with their statics on the geophysics. Weve resolved those and put a whole
new picture together and I think the 5 wells that were drilled by Repsol, all of which had
oil staining or oil in them combined with the reprocessed seismic data, enabled us to put
together a much clearer picture of the puzzle. I think further to that, with any large
company such as Repsol, there are other areas of interest for them. For one reason or
another, be it political or otherwise, they decided to pull out, which was lucky for us I
CEOCFO: Please tell us about the financial picture at Arsenal
Mr. Vandale: We really started out with the directors
essentially putting a little bit of the money into the company and we ended up purchasing
deals using stock of the company as pretty much a down payment. The people that we bought
properties from believed in us and took stock. We would take the cash flow and use it to
drill further locations and enhance the production in the properties. At this
point-in-time we really havent done a tremendous amount; we are just in the final
stages of closing a $9 million financing at $1.60 right now in Canada. We just had an
evaluation done this past June and a lot has gone on since then. Weve had an
evaluation at a 10% net present value of about $95 million Canadian for the company. Weve
certainly exceeded that now through our drilling in north central Alberta, but in terms of
money put in against what weve been able to accomplish, its been a tremendous
rate of return.
CEOCFO: Tell us about the drilling; how do you accomplish
being market driven yet market sensitive?
Mr. Vandale: When we started the company, we wanted to
find the cheapest multiples that we could possibly find for buying the production with
outside potential for drilling. Given that, we looked out on the eastern side of the
Williston basin in North Dakota for heavier oil than we had in Saskatchewan. The goal was
to get some production base at really cheap multiples and start drilling from there so we
could enhance what we would term our recycle ratio, where we could add
reserves very cheaply. In Northern Alberta, we are going after light oil again in order to
balance off our heavy oil production. The key in Northern Alberta is that we get longer
term reserves. As we do that, we are providing stability for the shareholder while
creating huge potential through exploration overseas. That is where the investor will see
the very positive rate of return. Its been a deliberate and careful strategy.
CEOCFO: Do you need to add to your management team as you
change your focus?
Mr. Vandale: Yes. I think that any company that is
growing needs to take on more people as you go. Fortunately for us in Egypt right now we
are partners with TransGlobe Energy Corporation and their head of exploration is a person
by the name of Ed Bell. He is highly respected and was instrumental in finding a
tremendous amount of oil in Yemin for Nexen, to the tune of about ¾ of a billion barrels.
Likely, we have been able to ride their coat tails at this time, but further to that as a
company ourselves we are planning to acquire at least two more senior personnel as we are
CEOCFO: Whats ahead and what are the challenges?
Mr. Vandale: This year we will go past 2,000 barrels
per day in production with what we have in Canada and the U.S. We have approximately
100 drilling locations, so we have enough capacity for the next couple of years in order
to increase reserves. Given that, we expect to reach 4,000 barrels per day by the end of
2006. This does not include what we are doing in Egypt. We think well be able to
have another leap again because we will have cash flow in hand. Egypt is going to be the
big one for us, because we are drilling three wells there with our partners in 2006. That
will be the real key. Although weve experienced rapid growth domestically, it could
be exponential growth with Egypt.
CEOCFO: Is working with partners part of your overall
Mr. Vandale: We dont mind partners, but we like
to operate wherever possible. In Canada and the United States, we operate 95% of our
production and we try to take very large percentages, 50% or greater has been the route
that we have chosen and we will continue on that basis. I think internationally, depending
on the situation, we will take partners, but anytime we can go it alone we will.
CEOCFO: What are your thoughts on the cyclicality of the
Mr. Vandale: Its funny, I was at my cottage in
northern Saskatchewan and lighting a fire using newspapers to start it, I came across one
from May of 1998, talking about oil being $14.15 and that weve got more oil than well
ever need. Seven short years later we are in a bit of a crisis now with the rise in
demand, so that we are pretty much running neck-and-neck with supply and demand. I dont
see us falling off a lot. Weve done our engineering and our reserves are evaluated
at $52.00 U.S. per barrel, which is about $10.00 cheaper from where you see it right now.
The evaluation, which I mentioned earlier of $95 million at a 10% net present value was
calculated on $52.00 U.S. oil. I guess the biggest question is what will happen in Asia,
because that seems to be the area thats driving the increase in demand. There are
other geopolitical considerations such as concern over security, but summing it up, those
are the two key things and I dont think well see oil fall below $52.00 per
CEOCFO: Please, sum up for potential investors; why should
they be interested and what should they know about Arsenal Energy that doesnt jump
off the page when one first looks?
Mr. Vandale: The easiest way to put it is that a few
days ago we had an article written about us titled, Safety + Upside = Arsenal
and I couldnt put it any better. We have great domestic production and it is
growing; weve been a bit on the fast track now that weve got our momentum. We
also have a big upside potential in the Komombo Rift Basin in Egypt, where there will be
drilling next year. Weve likened this play to the Gulf of the Suez, which has about
a series of 50 to 100 million barrel pools, within about 9.6 billion barrels recoverable.
Drilling is going to tell the whole tale, but thats what the investor has to look
for; constant steady growth plus a lot of upside.
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