Xcite Energy is getting down to the tricky business of bringing its key asset into production.
Xcite Energy (LSE: XEL) provides a good illustration of the stock market adage "buy the rumour and sell the fact". As interest mounted in its Bentley prospect in the North Sea during 2010 and 2011, its shares soared to £4. Now that it's down to the dirty business of raising cash for development and conducting things like flow tests, the shares are back down at 75p, where the company is valued at just over £200m.
Bentley is a heavy oil prospect, located 160km east of the Shetland Isles in just over 100m of water. Earlier this year, 2P reserves for the core area of the field were put at 116 million barrels.
Today's six-month results from Xcite didn't provide investors with much in the way of new information, but they provided a useful summary of the current state of affairs. The headline loss of £0.2m is almost meaningless at this stage, as the vast majority of expenditure is capitalised as an asset on the company's balance sheet, to be expensed at a later date. To date, £155m of costs have been capitalised.
Total cash resources are currently £82m, but most of this is held in escrow accounts, earmarked for the development plans. Further funds of £8.3m have been raised since the period end, and Xcite has also arranged a five-year $155m facility with a group of lenders that include Royal Bank of Scotland (LSE: RBS).
While that might sound of plenty of cash, it's estimated that a total of $360m will required for development costs in 2013. Unlike most other oil developers, Xcite owns 100% of this prospect and so is shouldering the entire financial burden.
While the financials are of course important, investor interest is mostly focused on the current flow test. It started on 9 July and could take up to 90 days. Over this period, Xcite is planning to collect a minimum of 45,000 barrels. The most recent update was on 19 July, when the company said the test was progressing well, with 10,000 barrels collected to date and it had achieved a stabilised rate of 2,900 barrels a day. Once the test is complete, Xcite should be able to provide more detail on the next stage of its development plans.
If you're interested the huge potential gains on offer in this sector, then you won't want to miss the Fool's latest free report called "How To Unearth Great Oil & Gas Shares". Download your copy today.
More free Motley Fool reports:
> Stuart does not own any of the shares listed above.