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Tullow Oil shares rally as trading update passes with no shocks or surprises

Tullow shares rallied to 61.98p but remain significantly below the levels seen in recent years.

Tullow Oil PLC - Tullow Oil shares rally as trading update passes with no shocks or surprises

Tullow Oil PLC (LON:TLW) shares started Wednesday’s trading on the front foot as its latest trading update was only as bad as previously feared.

Relief that there were no more surprises was evidently sufficient to send Tullow shares 4.7% higher to change hands at 61.98p.

As expected, the company confirmed oil production averaged 86,700 bopd over 2019 while full year free cash flow amounted to US$350mln.

Net debt stood at US$2.8bn at the end of December, and, the company expects the year-end gearing ratio to stand at 2.0 times.

Tullow said it expects to report some US$1.5bn of pre-tax impairments and exploration write-offs, mainly because it is cutting its long-term crude price assumptions to US$65 per barrel and it is downgrading oil reserves at the TEN projects.

READ: Tullow Oil boosted by latest Guyana discovery

It reiterated that it will now have a reduced capital spending budget of US$350mln for 2020, down from a 2019 spend of around US$540mln, though it noted that an additional US$100mln is due to spent on decommissioning activities.

The company anticipates 2020 free cash flow of at least US$150mln, substantially lower than last year, with the forecast based on a production rate of 75,000 bopd and an average oil price of US$60 per barrel.

Production guidance for the year remains at the recently announced range of 70,000 to 80,000 bopd.

Updating on the business review launched in December following the departure of former chief executive Paul McDade and exploration director Angus McCoss, the company today said the process is “progressing well”.

“The board is confident that the outcomes will deliver significant improvements to the group's organisational structure, major reductions in G&A and a more efficient and effective business,” Tullow said.

In December, the company put in place a small interim executive management team, and, began restructuring lower tiers of leadership and it added that work since then has focussed on simplifying the group’s structure.

“The next phase of the review will focus on the investment plans for each of the Group's major assets,” it added.

Already in the docket, whilst the asset review takes place, the company is presently drilling a production well at the Ntomme field (part of the TEN asset group).

Offshore Guyana, Tullow is now integrating data from the non-operated Carapa-1 discovery, in the Kanuku area, into its exploration models which is expected to result in ‘high grading’ other prospects across the Kanuku and Orinduik licence blocks.

Elsewhere, later this month, Tullow is due to spud the Marina-1 well offshore Peru before the end of this month. The programme is expected to take around 60 days to complete.

Tullow executive chair Dorothy Thompson said: “The fundamentals of our business remain intact: recent reserves audits demonstrate that we have a solid underlying reserves and resources base in West and East Africa, our producing assets continue to generate good cash flow and we retain a high-quality exploration portfolio.

“The board and senior management are confident of the long-term potential of the portfolio and see meaningful opportunities to improve operational performance, reduce our cost base, deliver sustainable free cash flow and reduce our debt."

Quick facts: Tullow Oil PLC

Price: 15.005 GBX

Market: LSE
Market Cap: £211.3 m

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