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SOCO profits boost exploration

Oil and gas explorer SOCO International said yesterday it will launch a major exploration programme in West Africa over the next 18 months after swinging to a first-half pre-tax profit of $31.6m (£19.1m). Chief executive Ed Story said he hoped to find 500m barrels of oil in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Congo Republic, on top of an anticipated 100m new barrels in Vietnam.