Gulf Keystone shares plummet as shareholders effectively wiped out

Jessica Morris
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A worker is seen at the Tawke oil refine
Gulf Keystone is based in Iraqi Kurdistan (Source: Getty)

Kurdish oil producer Gulf Keystone tumbled today after a desperately-needed funding agreement left shareholders with next to nothing.

They will hold on to just five per cent of the company, with bondholders owning a majority stake.

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Its shares tanked as much as 44.04 per cent to 2.63p per share at the open, before parring some losses to trade at 3.08 this afternoon.

But the deal will reduce the firm's debt to $100m (£75.5m) from $600m through a scheme of arrangement, or a legal agreement.

Jón Ferrier, chief executive of Gulf Keystone, defended the move: "Without the restructuring and the improved liquidity delivered by the transaction, the company cannot avoid insolvency or capture the significant future potential of the Shaikan field."

The Shaikan oil field produces 40,000 barrels per day, but it has the potential to churn out 55,000 barrels.

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Gulf Keystone is burdened with large debts that it took on when oil prices were high. It's also been crippled by late payments from the Kurdish Regional Government.

Its debt pile became harder to service as oil prices fell from more than $110 per barrel in the middle of 2014 to less than $40 at the end of last year.

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