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Rockhopper Exploration says focus will shift onto Sea Lion financing

Much of the recent activity and attention has been on Sea Lion's engineering design - the next will be commercial, fiscal and financing matters.
offshore oil drilling rig
Rockhopper meanwhile produced 1,350 boepd in the Med

Rockhopper Exploration Plc (LON:RKH) chairman David McManus says the focus will shift onto the Sea Lion field’s commercial, fiscal and financing elements of the project.

Last year, the project’s engineering design was advanced towards conclusion.

McManus expects the more stable crude price to be more supportive to the group’s plans for the Falklands oil field.

"With the spot price for Brent crude fluctuating around $55 per barrel in early 2017, and the cost efficiencies realised through the FEED process, the board is convinced the economics of the Sea Lion project are sufficiently robust to be sanctioned in the current environment, assuming the required capital investment can be secured,” McManus said.

Also in 2016, there was an independent audit which confirmed some 517mln barrels of contingent oil resources (2C) - and 3C resources set at 900mln barrels - and the field development plan and draft environmental impact statement were both updated.

Investors will, meanwhile, be watching Premier Oil PLC (LON:PMO), the lead partner in the Sea Lion project, as it closes its long awaited refinancing which is expected to stabilise the group’s financial position, albeit with some caveats for its growth plans.

Attentions are on Premier’s possible plans to bring in an additional partner to support the Sea Lion project, and whatever decisions are made will impact the potential timelines for the development.

At present, Premier has a loose timetable for Sea Lion’s development to first oil – which is slated as being after 2021.

A revenue business in the Mediterranean

In the meantime, Rockhopper has been building a production business in the Mediterranean (operations in Italy and Egypt).

Production for the twelve months to December 31 amounted to 1,350 barrels oil equivalent per day, generating around US$7.4mln in revenue.

The company reported a paper profit of US$98mln, due to the ‘excess of fair value’ associated with the prior acquisition of Falkland Oil & Gas (FOGL), meanwhile, it reported a US$21mln outflow of cash from operating activities.

Rockhopper ended 2016 with US$81mln of cash and US$427mln of net assets.


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