Soco slumps as oil price plunges at the pumps

Joseph Millis
OIL PRODUCER Soco International yesterday reported a 54 per cent decline in annual profit after it was hit by the slump in crude prices.

Disappointing drilling results at an offshore Vietnamese well forced Soco to shift some of its “probable” reserves estimates into the “possible”category, the change reducing its forecast oil reserves.

Soco, which came under fire last year for wanting to drill for oil in a national park in Congo, made $152.7m (£102.4m) in pre-tax profit in 2014, compared with $333.3m the previous year. Revenue fell to $448.2m, down 26 per cent on 2013.

The company, which had already announced that it was cutting 2015 investments by more than 60 per cent, said it was delaying the start of drilling work at its MPS Block off­ the coast of Congo Republic until next year.

“In response to the lower oil prices, we have deferred drilling the MPS exploration well to 2016 and undertaken several actions to reduce our general and administration costs,” the company said in its full-year results statement.

The company’s 2015 capital expenditure budget of $90m will largely go to its operations in Vietnam, to which it has allocated around $70m, it said.

Soco had a cash balance of $166.4m at the end of last year, a position it said it was ready to use for acquisitions if opportunities arise.

Chairman Rui de Sousa said: “As in the past, we remain value driven. We see the current environment as an opportunity to plan for future growth rather than a time for questioning the viability of the industry, and we believe Soco is well positioned to continue to execute its strategy in this environment.”

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