Alberta Oil - - JUNIORS -

In 2002, David Wil­son formed Celtic Ex­plo­ration with a cou­ple mil­lion dol­lars and a plan to get big. Re­ally big.

What Wil­son wanted to do was build a com­pany with as many op­por­tu­ni­ties in­side it as he could, so that it would even­tu­ally be at­trac­tive to a larger suitor. Then, once op­por­tu­nity knocked, Wil­son wanted to cash out. That’s ex­actly what he did when ExxonMo­bil came call­ing in 2012 and of­fered $3.1 bil­lion for Celtic.

In­side Celtic, Wil­son as­sem­bled a huge port­fo­lio of re­source play prospects well be­fore it was even clear the plays would pro­duce. He stayed away from bring­ing in joint ven­ture part­ners in or­der to keep the com­pany clean for an ac­quirer.

When it was ac­quired, Celtic was pro­duc­ing 22,000 boe/d, 75 per­cent of which was nat­u­ral gas. The real at­trac­tion for Exxon was the whop­ping 545,000 acres of Mont­ney shale and 104,000 acres of Duver­nay that Celtic con­trolled. Celtic share­hold­ers cashed out with 50 times their ini­tial in­vest­ment.

So how did Celtic man­age to get such a mas­sive land po­si­tion in the Mont­ney and Duver­nay? The an­swer is pretty sim­ple. The com­pany took a chance and moved ag­gres­sively be­fore larger com­pa­nies had any in­ter­est. As with most en­trepreneurs, Wil­son and his team didn’t bask in Celtic’s suc­cess for long. Si­mul­ta­ne­ous with the sale to Exxon, a new com­pany called Kelt Ex­plo­ration was spun out with Wil­son as CEO.

With roughly 22,000 boe/d, Kelt is of a sim­i­lar size to­day as Celtic was when it was sold to Exxon. The com­pany has four dif­fer­ent core ar­eas of op­er­a­tion in north­east Bri­tish Columbia and north­west Alberta, with a fo­cus on the Mont­ney and Doig for­ma­tions. Di­rec­tors and man­age­ment own 18 per­cent of Kelt’s out­stand­ing shares and are now try­ing to steer the com­pany through this trough in the com­mod­ity cy­cle.


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