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Oil and gas firms highlight potential of North Sea developments as their shares rise

 

NORTH Sea heavyweight Premier Oil has highlighted a strong performance by the giant Catcher field that it brought onstream in 2017, which helped the firm reduce its debts faster than expected.

Premier said the 100 million barrel Catcher field became its biggest source of output last year as production rose in line with targets and systems bedded down.

The company’s share of production from Catcher averaged 21,500 barrels oil equivalent per day.

Group production increased to a record 80,500 boepd from 75,000.

Chief executive Tony Durrant said Premier’s strong operational performance and disciplined expenditure had enabled the firm to reduce debt levels ahead of forecast.

The success of Catcher has vindicated the decision Premier made in June 2014 to develop the field with Edinburgh-based Cairn Energy although oil prices plunged in following months.

The companies were able to develop the field for much less than expected following the fall in the price of support services amid the resulting downturn.

The success has encouraged Premier to invest in other North Sea projects. In August it approved plans to develop the Tolmount gas field in the North Sea.

In an update on 2018 trading, Premier indicated the Solan field off Shetland has been performing in line with revised expectations. The field was brought onstream in 2016 following delays.

The FTSE 250 company said it grew annual revenues to an estimated $1.4 billion, from $1.1bn last time, citing higher production and realised commodity prices.

Operating costs averaged $16.90 per barrel of oil equivalent.

Brent crude sold for around $61 per barrel yesterday compared with $85/bbl in October. It peaked at $115/bbl in June 2014.

Premier’s year-end accounting net debt fell from $2.72bn to $2.33bn, below previous market guidance of $2.4bn.

Separately, shares in North Sea-focused i3Energy rose 14 per cent after the firm said it had made good progress with plans to develop the Liberator field in the Moray Firth.

The company has lined up a three-well appraisal and development drilling programme for this summer, in the expectation of delivering first oil by mid-2020.

i3Energy said it is negotiating terms and expects near-term agreement for $100million to $130m debt to support work on Liberator. Directors have been pleased with the response to the farm-out process the firm launched to attract firms to buy in to the acreage.

i3Energy shares closed up 14 per cent, 7.5p, at 58p on the Aim market.

Premier Oil shares closed up 4%, 2.9p, at 79p.

 

Source: The Herald

Published: 11-01-2019
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