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Tesla Reports 2012 Third Quarter Results

CALGARY, ALBERTA -- (Marketwire) -- 11/14/12 -- Tesla Exploration Ltd. ("Tesla" or the "Company") (TSX:TXL) today announces its 2012 third quarter operating and financial results.


Selected Highlights                                                         
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(000s, except per                                                           
 share data)         Three months ended            Nine Months Ended        
(unaudited)                September 30                 September 30        
                        2012       2011 Change       2012       2011 Change 
                           $          $      %          $          $      % 
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Revenue               28,853     47,237    (39)   149,936    163,130     (8)
Revenue excluding                                                           
 reimbursables        24,918     38,035    (34)   126,739    113,548     12 
Gross margin(1)        5,826      9,393    (38)    40,060     28,069     43 
  As a % of                                                                 
   revenue                                                                  
   excluding                                                                
   reimbursables                                                            
                          23%        25%               32%       25%        
Net earnings                                                                
 (loss)               (3,903)      (332)   n/m      6,101      (143)    n/m 
  Per share -                                                               
   basic               (0.17)     (0.01)   n/m       0.27     (0.01)    n/m 
EBITDA (2)             1,311      5,375    (76)    25,620     16,439     56 
  Per share -                                                               
   basic                0.06       0.24    (76)      1.13       0.72     56 
Cash flow from                                                              
 operations (3)        2,317      5,642    (59)    25,130     16,344     54 
  Per share -                                                               
   basic                0.10       0.25    (59)      1.11       0.72     54 
Weighted average                                                            
 shares                                                                     
 outstanding for                                                            
 the period -                                                               
 basic                22,701     22,795    n/m     22,725     22,795    n/m 
Capital                                                                     
 expenditures          2,214      1,852     20     23,667      8,235    187 
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                                                September   December        
As at                                                  30         31        
                                                     2012       2011 Change 
                                                        $          $       %
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Working capital                                       828     10,411    (92)
Total assets                                      117,412    141,088    (17)
Total long-term                                                             
 borrowings (4)                                    20,269     29,073    (30)
Equity                                             63,186     57,993      9 
                                                                            
1.  Gross margin is defined as gross profit before depreciation and         
    amortization. Gross margin is a measure that does not have a meaning    
    prescribed under IFRS in Canada and accordingly, may not be comparable  
    to similar measures used by other companies.                            
                                                                            
2.  EBITDA is defined as income before interest, taxes, depreciation,       
    amortization and impairments, gains or losses on foreign exchange, gains
    or losses on sales of capital assets, bad debt provisions and stock-    
    based compensation. EBITDA and EBITDA per share are presented because   
    they are frequently used by securities analysts and others for          
    evaluating companies and their ability to service debt. EBITDA is a     
    measure that does not have any standardized meaning prescribed under    
    IFRS in Canada and accordingly, may not be comparable to similar        
    measures used by other companies. The Company is consistent with its    
    calculation of EBITDA year over year.                                   
                                                                            
3.  Cash flow from operations is defined as "Cash provided by operating     
    activities before changes in non-cash working capital." Cash flow from  
    operations and cash flow from operations per share are measures that    
    provide shareholders and potential investors with additional information
    regarding the Company's liquidity and its ability to generate funds to  
    finance its operations. Management utilizes these measures to assess the
    Company's ability to finance operating activities and capital           
    expenditures. Cash flow from operations and cash flow from operations   
    per share are not measures that have any standardized meaning prescribed
    by IFRS in Canada, and accordingly, may not be comparable to similar    
    measures used by other companies. The Company is consistent with its    
    calculation of cash flow from operations year over year.                
                                                                            
4.  Includes capital lease obligations and long-term debt, including current
    portions.                                                               
                                                                            
Third Quarter Highlights:                                                   

--  Tesla USA successfully utilized its recently purchased 10,000 stations
    (30,000 channels) of wireless multi-component seismic acquisition system
    ("Hawk") throughout the third quarter of 2012 under the previously
    announced agreement with a multi-client geophysical company. 
    
--  Tesla Offshore significantly improved revenues from the comparative
    quarter benefitting from work on up to four geophysical vessels, most of
    which was on large scale day rate projects. This supplemented the
    historically strong summer construction season supporting client
    operations on up to 12 vessels. 
    
--  Tesla Offshore expanded its operations outside of the Gulf of Mexico,
    its historical operating area, with special construction projects in
    Alaska, Israel and Argentina. 
    
--  The Company hired and appointed Nathaniel Usher as Director of
    Geoscience for Tesla Offshore. Mr. Usher previously worked for ARCO/BP
    for 30 years and will assist Tesla Offshore in optimizing use of state
    of the art technology in geophysical survey operations, including the
    Autonomous Underwater Vehicle ("AUV") service line, and to further the
    development of geohazards interpretation services for clients worldwide.
    Subsequent to September 30, the Company approved a $6 million capital
    expenditure to acquire a Bluefin AUV which is expected to be operational
    by July 2013. 
    
--  Tesla Canada operated two crews periodically during the historically
    slower summer period including projects in Ontario and Quebec. Further,
    Tesla built a significant backlog in Canada for the fourth quarter of
    2012 and the first quarter of 2013 including work commitments for the
    Company's 13,000 stations (39,000 channels) of three-component ("3C")
    recording equipment and the 10,000 station Hawk system. 
    
--  Tesla International operated a crew in the UK and Denmark on hydrocarbon
    and mineral projects throughout the quarter. Tesla International also
    secured land and marine projects in Tanzania and the Democratic Republic
    of the Congo ("DRC") that will operate in the fourth quarter of 2012 and
    the first quarter of 2013.

Third Quarter Financial Results:

The Company's consolidated revenues including reimbursables decreased 39% in the third quarter of 2012 compared to the third quarter of 2011 while the Company's revenue excluding reimbursables decreased 35%. Significant declines in activity levels for Tesla International and Tesla Trinidad were only partially offset by an improvement in activity levels for Tesla Offshore. There were also slight declines in activity for Tesla Canada and Tesla USA. Tesla International was negatively impacted by a reduced level of activity in Africa during the third quarter of 2012 whereas revenues were generated from operations for two crews in Africa during the third quarter of 2011. Activity levels in the UK and Europe during the third quarter of 2012 were similar to those in the third quarter of 2011. Tesla Trinidad completed the Guayaguayare program in April of 2012. As such, no revenues were generated in the third quarter of 2012. Significant revenues were generated from this project in the third quarter of 2011 relating to front- end operations. Tesla Offshore's geophysical and construction activity levels both improved in the third quarter of 2012 compared to the third quarter of 2011 when operations were limited with the continued negative impact of the Macondo oil spill on activity levels in the Gulf. The third quarter remained slow for Tesla Canada due to limited activity for the industry with continued low natural gas prices reducing the number of summer programs. Several programs were also delayed into the fourth quarter. Tesla USA's third quarter activity levels increased significantly from the second quarter of 2012 with two crews operational including programs for Tesla USA's recently purchased wireless multi-component "Hawk" system under an extended seismic services agreement with a multi-client geophysical company. In the third quarter of 2011, Tesla USA operated four crews with a significantly higher level of third party contractor revenues.

Gross margin dropped in the third quarter of 2012 compared to the third quarter of 2011 due to declines in margin from Tesla Canada and Tesla International partially offset by improvements from Tesla USA and Tesla Offshore. Tesla USA margins improved despite the slight drop in revenues benefitting from the utilization of the Hawk system and a significant reduction in rental costs. Tesla Offshore's gross margin benefitted with the increase in activity. Margins from Tesla Canada decreased due to a reduction in revenues from the comparative quarter along with an increase in overhead costs. Tesla International's gross margin declined with the lack of work in Africa. Gross margin as a percentage of total revenue (including reimbursables) remained at 20% in the third quarter of 2012 consistent with the third quarter of 2011. Current quarter gross margin percentage benefitted from improved results for Tesla USA, an increased contribution from Tesla Offshore, a significant decrease in flow-through reimbursables associated with Tesla USA revenues and the reimbursable nature of third party contractor costs incurred during the front end phase of the Trinidad operations in the third quarter of 2011. Gross margin as a percentage of revenue (excluding reimbursables) declined slightly quarter over quarter.

The Company's EBITDA in the third quarter of 2012 decreased compared to the third quarter of 2011 due to the decline in absolute gross margin along with an increase in general and administrative costs across most segments. The Company's consolidated net loss increased in the third quarter of 2012 exceeding the consolidated net loss in the third quarter of 2011 due to the reduced EBITDA, increased depreciation related to the Hawk system and reduced gains from disposals and foreign exchange. This was partially offset by a reduction in tax expense.

The Company's working capital decreased $5.3 million during the quarter to $0.8 million including a net cash deficit of $5.9 million. Cash and operating lines were required to fund working capital requirements in certain jurisdictions, repay $2.4 million of regular finance leases and related interest and fund $2.4 million of capital expenditures during the third quarter of 2012.

Total long-term borrowings were reduced by $2.1 million during the quarter to $20.3 million. At September 30, 2012, the Company had $43.2 million of unused committed bank credit and lease facilities.

Shareholders' equity decreased $4.7 million to $63.2 million during the quarter due to the loss incurred along with a decrease in accumulated other comprehensive income with the strengthening of the Canadian dollar against the US dollar functional currency of the Company's US subsidiaries. This was partially offset by the exercise of options and an increase in contributed surplus relating to share-based payment charges.

Outlook:

North America Land Operations

The Company has seen a recent drop in demand for fall and winter programs in Canada. Tesla Canada expects a comparable level of activity to that experienced in late 2011 and anticipates peaking at five crews during the fourth quarter of 2012. However, significant winter programs have been cancelled due to foreign investment complications for a major client. Tesla Canada now plans to operate six crews during the first quarter of 2013 (down from eight), with a continued focus on 3C technology for oilsands projects and shale plays in western Canada. Tesla Canada will also utilize the Company's Hawk system on a large program throughout the first quarter of 2013. Committed crew rates remain strong and reduced rental commitments due to utilization of the Company's expanded channel count should benefit margins. However, these benefits may be partially offset by depressed rates on any future projects due to excess capacity created by project cancellations across the industry. Tesla is working to secure appropriate personnel in a competitive environment for the busy winter season.

Tesla USA continues to utilize the 10,000 station Hawk system on 2D and 3D programs under an agreement with a multi-client geophysical company. Production is in line with planned results and should continue to generate improved margins from those realized under current industry metrics. This crew expects to continue work under the agreement for the remainder of 2012 at which point the Hawk system will be moved to Canada for committed work throughout the first quarter of 2013. The Hawk system will be returned to the US for early April 2013 to continue work with the multi-client geophysical company. Tesla USA is pursuing work for a second crew. The slow increase in natural gas pricing continues to be reflected within the industry by increased activity levels focused on oil and liquids rich shale plays such as the Bakken, Utica (eastern Ohio) and Marcellus (western Pennsylvania and West Virginia) which may lead to an additional multi-component 3D recording crew at the end of the second quarter of 2013. Activity in the Denver-Julesburg ("DJ") Basin has been slower than projected but is expected to increase in the second quarter of 2013. Pricing of services continues to be the driving factor in this competitive market with requirements for higher channel counts, wireless recording systems and third-party multi-client programs driving the demand for services.

International Operations

Tesla International's UK and European crew has seen a sustained demand for acquisition services in both the hydrocarbon and minerals sectors. Indicators suggest that this demand will be maintained. This crew should be fully utilized for the remainder of the year and has secured commitments for projects during parts of 2013. Management is pursuing opportunities to fill gaps in the current 2013 work schedule.

Tesla International is currently in the mobilization process for a land and marine project in Tanzania with operational activity expected to begin shortly. This project will last well into the first quarter of 2013. Tesla International is also mobilizing for a land and marine project in the DRC. This project is a continuation of work performed in late 2011 and early 2012. The land portion of this program is expected to begin in December with the larger marine portion to follow once the Tanzania marine program is completed during the first quarter of 2013.

Tesla International is currently maintaining equipment in a Duty Free Zone near Djibouti, with vibrosies units in Oman, in order to facilitate efficient mobilization to potential projects in the region. The Company is currently pursuing projects in East Africa and surrounding areas to utilize this equipment.

Bid activity remains busy with a multitude of prospective work programs in the UK and Europe. Key areas of East Africa and North Africa are expected to see a return to greater activity following political stabilization and the interest of some of the major operators in developing their activities in the area. Tesla International expects to be successful in obtaining additional work from both of these opportunities and from exploiting some potential new areas of activity to extend its current backlog. Tesla International also recently opened a branch office in Islamabad to explore opportunities in the region.

The UK technical services office remains steady with a number of processing and interpretation projects recently awarded and underway with full utilization of capacity expected to continue. The Jakarta processing office has recently been awarded some sizable projects that will keep the office fully utilized through early 2013. Additional opportunities continue to be pursued to maintain backlog.

Tesla continues to investigate opportunities in South America, specifically Colombia, Ecuador and Suriname. Relationships with exploration companies are being developed with Tesla's capabilities and experience in comparable terrains and environments being highlighted for potential programs in the region.

Offshore Operations

Tesla Offshore is benefitting from increased activity levels in the Gulf of Mexico. Tesla Offshore operated two geophysical vessels on large scale day rate exploration projects through the early part of the fourth quarter of 2012. With winter coming, these contracts will be put on hold and continued in the spring of 2013. Tesla Offshore is utilizing a deep tow system aboard a third geophysical vessel and will remain operational into November on day rate projects.

The central and eastern Gulf of Mexico lease sale was held on June 20, 2012. This was positive news for Tesla Offshore. New lease sales generally lead to an increase in geophysical operations as operators require geophysical surveys for the purpose of securing drilling permits and evaluating new lease properties. In addition, hurricane Isaac's path through the Gulf of Mexico has resulted in government mandated survey requirements for operators in certain regions of the Gulf of Mexico. Tesla Offshore has obtained a healthy backlog of both turnkey and day rate work as a direct result of the lease sale and hurricane Isaac that should keep multiple vessels occupied throughout the winter months.

Construction activity remained strong in the early part of the fourth quarter but is now in the process of winding down heading into the historically slower winter months.

Tesla Offshore has increased the number of project tender responses and the amount of attention and effort put toward opportunities outside the Gulf of Mexico. Tesla Offshore continues work on a multi-year project in Alaska and a special project in Israel. As long-term clients expand into these and other areas, Tesla Offshore is configuring systems and staff to profitably provide services to support their operations.

Continuing this growth plan, Tesla Offshore recently committed to the purchase of a $6 million Bluefin AUV which has the ability to acquire high resolution ocean bottom data. Tesla Offshore expects the AUV to be delivered and operational by July 2013. This will open new markets for Tesla Offshore related to deep water oil and gas field development, along with governmental, environmental and academic applications. Tesla Offshore plans to operate the AUV not only in the Gulf of Mexico, where the US Government now requires data across most of the deep water Gulf of Mexico blocks to be acquired by an AUV, but on a global basis. Tesla Offshore hired Nathaniel Usher (as noted above) and has reassigned George Loy as General Manager of AUV Operations and Special Projects, to spearhead the implementation of this new technology. George Loy's replacement in the Prairieville office will be Jay Northcutt, who also has AUV experience from his years of managing those operations for one of our competitors. The AUV team is also in the process of identifying other AUV specialists, to support field operations.

Forward-looking Statements:

Certain information set forth in this press release, including management's assessment of the Company's future plans and operations, contains forward-looking statements, which are based on the Company's current internal expectations, estimates, projections, assumptions and beliefs, which may prove to be incorrect. Some of the forward-looking statements may be identified by words such as "expects", "anticipates", "believes", "projects", "intends", "continues", "estimates", "objective", "ongoing", "may", "will", "should", "might", "plans" and similar expressions. These statements are not guarantees of future performance and undue reliance should not be placed on them. Such forward-looking statements are based on current expectations, estimates and projections that involve a number of known and unknown risks and uncertainties, which may cause the Company's actual performance and financial results in future periods to differ materially from any projections of future performance or results expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. These include, but are not limited to, the risks outlined in the "Business Risks" section of the Company's MD&A for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2012.

The information contained in this press release should not be considered all-inclusive as it excludes changes that may occur in general economic, political and environmental conditions. The Company cautions that actual performance will be affected by a number of factors, many of which are beyond its control. Investors are cautioned against attributing undue certainty to forward-looking statements. The forward-looking information and statements contained in this press release speak only as of the date hereof and, subject to its obligations under applicable law, the Company does not intend, and does not assume any obligation, to update these forward-looking statements if conditions or opinions should change.

About Tesla

Tesla provides geophysical and related services in Canada, internationally through its wholly owned subsidiaries Tesla Exploration International Ltd. and Tesla Exploration Trinidad Ltd., and in the United States through Tesla Exploration Inc. and Tesla Offshore LLC. Since the Company's inception in 2000, Tesla has grown both organically and through acquisitions funded by retained earnings and prudent levels of borrowing, from a Canadian focused land seismic business to a global provider of a broad suite of geophysical and related services. Tesla trades on the TSX under the symbol "TXL".

Requests for shareholder information should be directed to Mr. Richard Habiak or Mr. Stuart Craven.

Contacts:
Tesla Exploration Ltd.
Mr. Richard Habiak
President and CEO
(403) 216-0990

Tesla Exploration Ltd.
Mr. Stuart Craven
Vice President and CFO
(403) 692-4602

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