MELBOURNE Feb 21 Oil Search Ltd
reported a 70 percent drop in annual core profit on Tuesday, as
expected, hit by weak oil and gas prices, but said it will step
up spending in 2017 as it aims to expand output in Papua New
Guinea in the next few years.
Net profit before one-offs fell to $106.7 million for 2016
from $359.9 million a year earlier, as average liquefied natural
gas (LNG) prices dropped by a third and oil prices slid 12
percent. The result was in line with analysts' forecasts of
$107.9 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The Australian-based firm cut its full year dividend to 3.5
cents a share from 10 cents, slightly ahead of analysts'
forecasts at 3 cents.
Oil Search plans to roughly double capital spending this
year to between $360 million and $460 million, with exploration
and development campaigns under way, particularly around a
recent find, Muruk in Papua New Guinea, which Oil Search and its
partners ExxonMobil Corp and Santos see as very
Oil Search has said it expects to produce between 28.5
million and 30.5 million barrels of oil equivalent in 2017, flat
to slightly weaker than last year's record output.
(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Richard Pullin)