Premier Oil said its production increased 5% last year after first oil from its Catcher area field development in the North Sea began on schedule and under budget.
The exploration and production company raised group production to 75,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) in the calendar year at an average operational expenditure of $16.50 per barrel.
With Catcher production planned to ramp up to a peak gross production of 60,000 boepd during the first half of the current trading year, Premier issued its 2018 production guidance to be roughly 80,000-85,000 boepd across the whole group.
Premier reported progress on its next generation of growth projects such as BIGP, Tolmount, Sea Lion and Tuna, as well as making a “world class” oil discovery off the coast of Mexico in Zama.
The London-based firm reported an estimated total capex of $305m, below its revised guidance of $325m.
After completing a comprehensive refinancing programme, Premier had dropped net debt down to $2.7bn at the end of the calendar year and held a positive free cash flow, thanks in part to its successful disposal programme, which included offloading its Wytch Farm interests to Perenco, generating more than $200m of cash receipts throughout the year.
Tony Durrant, chief executive, said, “First oil from Catcher and the completion of the Wytch Farm disposal completed a highly successful year for Premier which included our world-class exploration success with the Zama discovery.”
“As Catcher builds up to 60,000 boepd, 2018 will bring higher production and cash flow, continuing the debt reduction programme. Alongside this, our portfolio of future projects is being progressed for selective investment and further growth,” he added.
As of 0840 GMT, Premier shares had dropped 4.19% to 94.37p, having more than doubled in the past six months.