(Updates to add drilling plans in fifth paragraph.)
Feb. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Oil Search Ltd., Papua New Guinea’s largest oil and gas producer, said full-year profit increased 9 percent on higher oil prices and lower exploration expenses.
Net income rose to $202.5 million, or 15.3 cents a share, in the 12 months ending Dec. 31 from $185.6 million, or 14.1 cents a share, a year earlier, the Port Moresby-based company said today in a statement. That compares with the $220.5 million average estimate of 11 analysts compiled by Bloomberg.
Oil Search is Exxon Mobil Corp.’s partner in a $15.7 billion liquefied natural gas project in Papua New Guinea set to begin exports in 2014. The company said last month it also plans to sign a partner to help develop gas resources in the Gulf of Papua, an area that could host another LNG venture.
Oil Search rose 2.7 percent to A$6.725 at 11:50 a.m. Sydney time, extending its gain to 7.7 percent for the year, compared with a 5.2 percent gain on the benchmark index.
The company is starting the largest drilling campaign in its history, seeking reserves to underpin LNG expansion plans and increase oil production, Oil Search said. It may have an initial view in late 2012 or early 2013 on whether it has enough gas to support an expansion of the venture with Exxon, the company said.
Oil Search has found “attractive prospects” in the Gulf region and is preparing to drill at least two of them in the last quarter of 2012, the company said. “Oil Search has received strong interest in participating in this program from a number of major companies with LNG development experience.”
The company received an average oil price of $116.09 a barrel in 2011, 45 percent higher than the prior year, according to the company.
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