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Petroceltic narrows losses and looks to expand

OIL and gas explorer Petroceltic narrowed pre-tax losses in 2012, as the business prepared to expand its operations in the year ahead.

The firm, which is focused mainly on exploration in Algeria and Egypt, posted a loss of $6.7m (€5.2m) in 2012, down from an $8.2m deficit a year earlier.

Despite the narrowed operating losses, the company incurred a tax charge of more than $13m, pushing it to an overall loss of $20m on the year.

Most of the levy came from the company's farming out of part of its operations in Algeria during the year.

Petroceltic said 2012 had been a "transformational" year for the firm. It engineered a reverse takeover of the British firm Melrose Resources in October and the company was now far bigger than the 2012 accounts reflected.

Turnover rose on the back of the takeover from less than $1m to nearly $60m. On an annualised basis, sales are now more than $250m.

The firm maintains that it would have posted an annual profit if the Melrose deal had gone through in January instead of October.

Company chairman Robert Adair said the firm had "fundamentally transformed" the business over the past year.

"The merger with Melrose in October 2012 has created a significant, regionally focused, full-cycle, independent oil and gas company.

"This combination has produced a company with stable finances and excellent growth prospects.

"Petroceltic has the technical expertise and ambition to develop further over the next 12 months, while the recent announcement of our new $500m financing facility represents a strong technical and financial endorsement of the quality of our producing assets and longer-term growth ambitions of the group," he added.

Analysts were broadly positive on the results, with Bank of America Merrill Lynch noting the company was on track for admission to the main market in London by June, which is likely to increase investment in the company.

Shares rose in London to 6.3 pence. They were unchanged by the close in Dublin.

Irish Independent