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Petroceltic discovers more gas than expected in Algeria field

PETROCELTIC, the oil and gas company focussed on Algeria, said yesterday it has found more gas than expected in the North African country -- an announcement that promoted Davy Stockbrokers to raise its share- price target.

Petroceltic said the gas was discovered in parts of a field in the Illizi Basin in south-eastern Algeria. Drilling at the well which produced the results has now been suspended and new tests will be carried out later this month.

"We are optimistic for a positive outcome from testing," said chief executive Brian O'Cathain yesterday.

The find, together with previous finds, suggests that Petroceltic has discovered a large, single gas field. The Irish company and its Algerian partner Sonatrach have been drilling in isolated parts of Algeria despite a bitter civil war and recent food riots.

Davy Stockbrokers analyst Caren Crowley said the news was "a very good start" to the year and increased her valuation for the company's shares on the London Stock Exchange to 30.7p per share. The shares jumped as much as 9.3pc to 14.3p yesterday.

"The result suggests gas-in-place resources are up with, or exceed, best estimates," Ms Crowley wrote yesterday.

"We are moving our valuation from 23.6p to 30.7p per share but feel the risk is to the upside once all data are analysed and processed. Our valuation for Petroceltic's interest in Algeria is now 20.6p per share (previously 13.5p)."

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