Business Irish

Thursday 20 June 2019

Petroceltic hopes to tap new markets as loss hits $5m

Thomas Molloy

PETROCELTIC International, an Irish oil driller focused on Algeria, said its first-half loss doubled to almost $5m (€3.8m) and added that it was looking to move into new markets.

The company, which had $108m of cash at the end of the period after raising $115m earlier this year, has had to postpone plans to drill in Italy following a possible ban on off-shore drilling and has farmed out some Tunisan oil fields to other operators.

The results met with a broad welcome from analysts.

"We reiterate our 'outperform' rating for the stock ahead of the impending drilling programme on Petroceltic's key asset," Davy analyst Caren Crowley said.

Petroceltic is looking for oil in Algeria together with the state-owned oil company and recently hired a Dubai-based contractor to begin drilling appraisal wells in a new exploration field in the country.

The company reiterated that it expected to drill for oil next month.

"Algeria is the cornerstone of the Petroceltic investment story and, despite some changing circumstances in other areas of the world, the underlying investment case remains as strong today as it has ever been," said chief executive Brian O'Cathain.

"We have put in place the capital and resources to exploit our world-class discovery in Algeria, and have made good progress in Italy and Tunisia, despite challenging circumstances."

The company added yesterday that sales from continuing operations fell to $119m in the first half of the year from $125m in the same period last year, while administrative expenses rose to $3.2m from $2.8m in the same period last year.

"With little in the way of incremental newsflow arising from today's statement, and much of the above already known, today's statement is unlikely, in our view, to have a bearing on the share price one way or the other," Goodbody analyst Gerry Hennigan said yesterday.

The shares closed little changed in Dublin yesterday.

Irish Independent

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