UK oil firms expand after consolidation

 
Marion Dakers
BRITISH oil firms are stepping up expansion and investment after a year of consolidation, says research out today.

Companies are making the most of relatively high and stable oil prices to fast track development, according to Deloitte’s biannual rankings of oil producers.

Tullow Oil, the largest oil firm to trade exclusively in the UK with a market capitalisation of £8.9bn at the end of June, has recently ramped up operations in Africa with acquisitions in Uganda and a new oil field off the coast of Ghana.

Tullow still makes up 33 per cent of the total market cap of the top 25 companies, though this has fallen from 41 per cent six months ago.

Ian Sperling-Tyler of Deloitte said: “It was encouraging to see new entrants during the period, especially when that resulted from a company being admitted to the main market.”

EnQuest Oil entered the rankings in eighth place, after making its market debut in April.

The first half of the year was broadly positive for the independent upstream sector, with the market cap of the majority of companies in the league table increasing by 4.6 per cent over the six months to 30 June, now standing at £26.5bn.

The biggest climber was Rockhopper Exploration, rising from 26th place to the tenth largest firm, reflecting positive drilling data in its Falkland Basin assets.

SOCO International moved up two places to fourth as a result of a 31 per cent increase in market cap since December, reflecting successful explorations in Asia and Africa.

Indus Gas remains the highest ranked Aim-listed company, moving up to seventh place.

Dana Petroleum fell out of the top five, now the sixth largest firm, despite shares soaring 37 per cent since the start of the year on the back of takeover talk.

Companies moving out of the top 25 include Regal Petroleum, Nighthawk Energy, Fortune Oil and Hardy Oil & Gas.