Global Geopolitical and Macroeconomic Factors
QEP continues to monitor the global economy, including Europe and China's economic outlook; the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) countries oil production and policies regarding production quotas; political unrest and economic issues in South America, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa; slowing growth in certain emerging market economies; actions taken by the United States Congress and the president of the United States; the U.S. federal budget deficit; changes in regulatory oversight policy; commodity price volatility; tariffs on goods we use in our operations or on the products we sell; the impact of a potential increase in interest rates; volatility in various global currencies; and other factors. A dramatic decline in regional or global economic conditions, a major recession or depression, regional political instability, economic sanctions, war, or other factors beyond the control of QEP could have a significant impact on oil, gas and NGL supply, demand and prices and the Company's ability to continue its planned drilling programs and could materially impact the Company's financial position, results of operations and cash flow from operations. In December 2015, the U.S. lifted a 40-year ban on the export of oil, giving U.S. producers access to a wider market. As a result, the U.S. may in the future become a significant exporter of oil if the necessary infrastructure is built to support oil exports. Disruption to the global oil supply system, political and/or economic instability, fluctuations in currency values, and/or other factors could trigger additional volatility in oil prices.
Due to continued global economic uncertainty and the corresponding volatility of commodity prices, QEP continues to focus on maintaining a sufficient liquidity position to ensure financial flexibility. QEP uses commodity derivatives to reduce the volatility of the prices QEP receives for a portion of its production and to partially protect cash flow and returns on invested capital from a drop in commodity prices. Generally, QEP intends to enter into commodity derivative contracts for approximately 50% to 75% of its forecasted annual production by the end of the first quarter of each fiscal year. At March 31, 2018, QEP forecasted its 2018 annual production to be approximately 50.1 MMboe and had approximately 76% of its forecasted oil production and 78% of its forecasted gas production covered with fixed-price swaps and collars. See Part 1, Item 3 – "Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures about Market Risk-Commodity Price Risk Management" for further details on QEP's commodity derivatives transactions.
Potential for Future Asset Impairments
The carrying values of the Company's properties are sensitive to declines in oil, gas and NGL prices as well as increases in various development and operating costs and expenses and, therefore, are at risk of impairment. The Company uses a cash flow model to assess its proved properties for impairment. The cash flow model includes numerous assumptions, including estimates of future oil, gas and NGL production, estimates of future prices for production that are based on the price forecast that management uses to make investment decisions, including estimates of basis differentials, future operating costs, transportation expenses, production taxes, and development costs that management believes are consistent with its price forecast, and discount rates. Management also considers a number of other factors, including the forward curve for future oil and gas prices, and developments in regional transportation infrastructure when developing its estimate of future prices for production. All inputs for the cash flow model are evaluated at each date of estimate.
We base our fair value estimates on projected financial information that we believe to be reasonably likely to occur. An assessment of the sensitivity of our capitalized costs to changes in the assumptions in our cash flow calculations is not practicable, given the numerous assumptions (e.g., future oil, gas and NGL prices; production and reserves; pace and timing of development plans; timing of capital expenditures; operating costs; drilling and development costs; and inflation and discount rates) that can materially affect our estimates. Unfavorable adjustments to some of the above listed assumptions would likely be offset by favorable adjustments in other assumptions. For example, the impact of sustained reduced oil, gas and NGL prices on future undiscounted cash flows would likely be offset by lower drilling and development costs and lower operating costs.
If forward oil prices decline from March 31, 2018 levels or we experience negative changes in estimated reserve quantities or we enter into purchase and sale agreements for less than net book value, we have proved and unproved property with a net book value of approximately $3.3 billion at risk for impairment, primarily associated with our Williston Basin and Uinta Basin fields as of March 31, 2018. The actual amount of impairment incurred, if any, for these properties will depend on a variety of factors including, but not limited to, subsequent forward price curve changes, the additional risk-adjusted value of probable and possible reserves associated with the properties, weighted-average cost of capital, operating cost estimates and future capital expenditure estimates.