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Chief executive Tony O’Reilly concedes it had originally expected that a deal would, by this time, have already been sealed.
However, despite the delays, O’Reilly believes it is highly unlikely that a deal will elude the company.
“Our farm-out process has attracted a great deal of industry interest, and it is easy to understand why,” he said on a conference call today.
“Barryroe, as we’ve said before, is a world class project.
“It has a big resource with high quality flowing crude using a conventional methodology, in a fiscally attractive and secure operating environment.
“Whilst the process is still ongoing, we remain confident a deal will be consummated in the near future.”
Having adapted its development plans to reduce initial capex and focus on early production the Irish oil firm enhanced the proposition for a market which had been relatively cautious.
Through phased development Providence aims to start production earlier than before, at a rate of 30,000 barrels per day, before fully developing the field up to a plateau of around 100,000 barrels a day.
This new approach has boosted the farm-out process, Providence revealed.
Earlier today, in the group’s financial results statement for 2013, O’Reilly said: “Overall, the farm-out and M&A market in the oil and gas sector remains challenging, with caution evident across the sector,” chief executive Tony O’Reilly said in Friday’s financial results statement.
“The majority of world-wide oil and gas investments and M&A deals have been concluded either in the North American shale gas and oil sector or in the East African region with very few major farm-out deals being completed in the North-West European sector over the past year."
He added: “[The] phased development programme is targeting an initial production profile of 30,000 BOPD, with substantially reduced initial capital expenditure and an accelerated timeline to get to first oil.
"This phased approach has been well received and the company is now in advanced discussions with a select number of international E&P companies on terms.”
O’Reilly also looked ahead to drilling plans, with four wells remaining in its multi-basin drill programme.
The Cairn Energy operated Spanish Point well is the next on the drilling schedule, and it will be followed by the Dragon, Polaris and Kish Bank.
In the twelve months to December 31 2013, Providence reported an operating loss of €7.23mln compared to €5.43mln the year before. The loss reduced to €2.79mln due to a €4.97mln credit relating to assets divestments.
Providence ended 2013 with €8.99mln of cash and equivalents, and this month it arranged a US$24mln working capital facility with a US financier.
Sam Wahab, analyst at Cantor Fitzgerald, repeated a ‘buy’ recommendation for Providence with a 969p price target (current price 142p) - which reflects both the stock’s potential and just how far the share has been pulled back in recent months.
“Whilst the company’s shares have significantly underperformed over the past 12 months (-74%) as investors took profits and lost confidence in any near term farm-out of the company’s flagship Barryroe prospect.
“The company again confirms today that it is in detailed discussions with a number of parties in respect of a farm-out.
“In our view, there remains considerable upside potential at Barryroe.”