Sterling looks to expand portfolio as profits rise
Sterling Energy, the UK-listed exploration firm in which Irish businessman Denis O'Brien has a 7.3pc stake, said one of its key objectives for 2011 is to add to its portfolio of assets, particularly in Africa and the Middle East.
The company, which released full-year results yesterday, had a "very challenging" year in 2010 at its Kurdistan prospect.
It reported revenue of $25.3m last year, up from $22.7m a year earlier, while it posted a pre-tax profit of $5.8m compared to a loss of $202.5m in 2009. It generates revenue from a share in an oil-producing field called Chinguetti, in Mauritania.
Sterling was beset by difficulties at the Sangaw North-1 exploration well in Kurdistan, Iraq encountering both geological and mechanical obstacles.
However, the company, which had cash of almost $102m on its books at the end of December, said that its 2011 works programme was fully funded and that resources were also available for new ventures. Sterling reckons the Kurdistan prospect could hold as much as 3.8 trillion cubic feet of gas and 500 million barrels of oil.
Sterling also has interests in Cameroon and in Madagascar, where it has an interest in a deep water licence. That prospect has been assessed to contain 1.2 billion barrels of prospective resources, according to Sterling.
The start of drilling on the site is dependent on the resolution of the political situation in Madagascar.
Shares in Sterling were unchanged yesterday.