The CEO of Irish oil and gas explorer Providence said he expects the firm to secure a development partner for its flagship asset, the Barryroe oil and gas field, before the end of the year.
Dublin-based Providence has been trying to get a partner on board to develop the potentially lucrative field for years.
Earlier this year the company said it had reached a tentative deal with a development partner but was still in talks with other interested parties.
Completing a deal would be a major boost for the firm, which has seen its share price drop from almost £7 a share to 24.5p in the space of less than three years. However, in its latest set of full year results Providence said the closing conditions for the deal to be completed have yet to be satisfied. Providence boss Tony O'Reilly told the Irish Independent that the firm is still actively looking for partners on the project.
"Are they [the tentative partner] the preferred partner for the project? Not necessarily, the preferred partner is someone who can close the next stage of the project and who can ensure that it reaches first production," he said.
"It [securing a development partner] is not many months out based on our expectations. We are working to conclude it this year with the caveat that we are one side of the negotiations in the deal and this is a very competitive market." The proposed Barryroe partner is thought to be London-based Sequa Petroleum, which recently closed a $300m bond offering. Mr O'Reilly refused to comment on whether Providence has been in discussions with Sequa.