Premier plays down North Sea oil charge

Marion Dakers
UK OIL explorer Premier Oil talked down the effect of the government’s shock North Sea fuel profit tax yesterday, as it reported record profits of $129.8m (£80.5m).

The firm has $1bn of tax allowances linked to its purchase of Oilexco, which it bought out of administration in 2009, chief executive Simon Lockett said, meaning it doesn’t have to pay UK taxes until at least 2015. “The positive side of it is that we’re still quite acquisitive and I guess that means that you’ll get assets which are going to be a bit cheaper going forward,” he added.

The FTSE 250 component said it remains on target to produce 75,000 barrels of oil per day by 2012, thanks to new discoveries in its Catcher field in the North Sea.

Analysts re-examined all oil firms with exposure to the North Sea yesterday. RBS cut Premier’s net asset value forecasts by two to four per cent but left profit predictions untouched.

Premier shares gained four per cent yesterday to close at £19.88.