UK oil firms post mixed results as they aim to widen exploration

City A.M. Reporter
BRITISH oil explorers Premier Oil and Soco International flagged potentially transformational drilling plans for the second half of 2010 yesterday as they unveiled mixed results despite higher oil prices.

Soco said its exploration programme, already under way in Vietnam and the Democratic Republic of Congo, could quadruple its reserves base, while Premier said drilling plans in the North Sea and Indonesia could double its reserves.

“We’re very excited about them,” Premier chief executive Simon Lockett said.

The company said it was now more confident of reaching its target of producing 75,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) in 2012 and chief financial officer Tony Durrant said he expected production of over 100,000 boepd in 2015.

Premier added that a 17 per cent rise in first-half oil and gas production and higher prices allowed it to swing to a profit after tax of $62m (£39.9m) from a loss of $27.3m.

Soco’s first-half net profit fell 62 per cent to $12.0m due to a 23 per cent drop in production, higher taxes and a rise in costs.

Analysts at Evolution Securities said Premier remained a potential takeover target but Lockett said he had received no recent approaches.