March 8, 2018 / 8:41 AM / 10 days ago

Premier Oil keen on bigger slice of Catcher field in North Sea

LONDON (Reuters) - Premier Oil is interested in increasing its 50 percent interest in the Catcher North Sea oilfield that produced first oil in December, Chief Executive Tony Durrant told Reuters on Thursday.

“We would love to have more of Catcher. It depends on the structure of the sale,” Durrant said when asked whether Premier was looking at a 20 percent stake in the field that banking sources said is earmarked for sale by MOL.

Catcher is expected to reach production of 60,000 barrels per day (bpd) in April, bringing Premier’s 2018 output guidance to 80,000-85,000 bpd, up from 75,000 last year.

Increased production will be key to reducing Premier’s debt pile of about $2.6 billion (1.8 billion pounds).

Durrant said it would be “very reasonable” to expect net debt to fall to about $2.3 billion by the end of the year, with debt reduction accelerating next year.

Shares in Premier Oil were up 3.2 percent at 73.20 pounds by 0908 GMT, outperforming the broader sector’s 0.3 percent decline.

Premier’s other key project, the Mexican offshore field Zama, has potential reserves of up to 800 million barrels and could drill its first appraisal well in the second quarter, depending on partner Pemex’s plans for a rig in a neighbouring block.

When asked whether Premier might have become a takeover target, Durrant said: “I don’t think there is a lot of activity in the corporate (mergers and acquisitions) world at the moment so it’s not on the top of my worry list or priority list.”

Reporting by Shadia Nasralla; Editing by David Goodman

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