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Petroceltic set to resume drilling in Kurdistan

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Brian O'Cathain, chief executive of Petroceltic

Brian O'Cathain, chief executive of Petroceltic

Brian O'Cathain, chief executive of Petroceltic

Independent oil and gas exploration company Petroceltic is to resume its operations in Kurdistan next month.

In August the Irish exploration firm and its partner Hess announced that it had evacuated staff and temporarily suspended its operations in the Kurdistan area of Iraq as crisis enveloped the region.

It has a 16pc, partner-operated, working interest in two exploration concessions - Shakrok and Dinarta - in the central area of Iraqi Kurdistan. The decision followed similar moves by other companies in the area, including Chevron, Exxon-Mobil and other oil producers.

The company said yesterday that drilling operations in the region were due to resume in early October if circumstances allowed.

Petroceltic - which has operations focused on the Middle East, North Africa, Mediterranean and Black Sea regions and is listed in both London and Dublin - also reported yesterday that revenue for the first half of the year was $96.3m, (€74.3m) with a loss for the period of $57.4m driven by exploration write-offs.

Analysts said production was also running ahead of expectations.

Davy struck an upbeat tone.

"An eventful and sometimes difficult first half for the group should make shareholders appreciate the solid core of assets," said analyst Job Langbroek.

"Both its Algerian and Egyptian operations are a source of growth and value - the former in terms of future development and cash flow and the latter in terms of exploration and value upside. Importantly, progress was made in both areas."

Stockbrokers Goodbody said that exploration activity is expected to be the main driver of the share price, which are confined to the Dinarta block in Kurdistan.

Petroceltic chief executive Brian O'Cathain said the company's production and development business has delivered a "solid performance" to date this year.

"While our exploration wells during this period did not generate commercial discoveries, we have high hopes for our continuing exploration drilling programme in Kurdistan."

He also said that the expected move to a main listing in London was expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Petrocelctic share price was up 1.2pc by early afternoon yesterday in London trading.

Mr O'Cathain also said the company had successfully raised $100m via a share placing with new and existing shareholders.

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